Safari picks up WebM support in the current macOS Big Sur 11.3 beta

Macos Big Sur Preview Safari Hero
Macos Big Sur Preview Safari Hero (Image credit: Rene Ritchie)

What you need to know

  • The latest macOS Big Sur 11.3 beta adds support for the 11-year-old WebM video format.
  • It isn't clear why Apple decided that 2021 is the time to add support.

Apple's upcoming macOS Big Sur 11.3 update will add support for WebM video playback in Safari if the current beta is any indication.

As spotted by The 8-Bit, support for the Google-backed web-based video format appears to now be functional in the second beta of macOS Big Sur 11.3, released to developers yesterday.

Google first launched WebM back in 2010 but Safari is only just jumping on board. There's no telling why Apple decided that 2021 is the year to add support for something that's been around for so long. The move does follow last year's addition of the WebP format, however – the image-based version of WebM.

The benefits of WebM include:

Optimized for the web. Serving video on the web is different from traditional broadcast and offline mediums. Existing video formats were designed to serve the needs of these mediums and do it very well. WebM is focused on addressing the unique needs of serving video on the web.Low computational footprint to enable playback on any device, including low-power netbooks, handhelds, tablets, etc.Simple container formatHighest quality real-time video deliveryClick and encode. Minimal codec profiles and sub-options. When possible, let the encoder make the tough choices.

Nobody yet knows when Apple will release macOS Big Sur 11.3 to the public but it's unlikely many people are waiting for its arrival so they can watch WebM content.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too. Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.