OS X Mavericks Preview: AV Kit simplifies QuickTime transition

Apple's QuickTime made its public debut in 1991, when System 7.1 was state of the art. Times have changed, and so have the way programmers write code. AV Kit is Apple's latest effort to modernize media content delivery for developers.

iOS gave Apple an opportunity to rethink the way application developers should support and deliver media content on Apple devices. The result of that is a framework called AV Foundation, which debuted on the Mac with OS X 10.7. Now Apple's continuing that effort with new Mavericks technology for developers called AV Kit.

AV Foundation effectively replaces QuickTime by completely reorganizing the way developers work with media content on the Mac, providing a framework that's more compatible with today's computers and today's operating system, more intuitive to work with and better, all around.

When I say "QuickTime," I'm talking about the underlying programming technology and system frameworks. Don't worry: QuickTime .MOV files aren't going away, any more than the industry-standard .MP4 format that uses QuickTime as its basis, or even QuickTime Player, the app that lets you play back movies. What is going away is the crusty old C language code used to control media playback.

In its place is AV Kit. AV Kit lets developers working with Apple's Xcode development environment to integrate media playback, editing and other features without having to write a lot of code to do it.

Here's how Apple explains AV Kit in its public-facing site for developers:

Now you can easily play modern media formats within your Mac app with AV Kit. With very little code, playback can be embedded into a standard Cocoa view, along with navigation controls, chapter selection, and support for subtitles. This easy-to-use framework is built on AV Foundation and is an ideal starting point for transitioning your QuickTime-based apps to the latest media technologies.

There isn't a lot more public information to share with you about AV Kit at this point, so we'll get back to you once Mavericks is public and details about some of the underlying technology are a bit more accessible.

In the interim, consider AV Kit like so much of the other advanced technology in Mavericks: it's there to improve efficiency and get more from less effort.

Are you a developer who relies on QuickTime? What do you think of AV Foundation? Talk to me in the comments.

Peter Cohen