Browser & Device Reference

This article lists which browsers and devices are officially supported by JW Player, including any existing limitations and differences between desktop and mobile.

Table Of Contents

Under the hood, JW Player uses two playback technologies (HTML5 and Flash), with the selection logic executed JavaScript. The selection process is described below.

Nowadays, new versions of browsers are frequently released. We always test the most widely distributed one(s).

Desktop Browsers

This table lists which desktop browsers are fully supported by JW Player:

Browser HTML5 Flash
Chrome yes yes
Firefox yes yes
Internet Explorer 8 - yes
Internet Explorer 9+ yes yes
Safari yes yes

All JW Player features are supported on these browsers, with the exception of media playback. In a nutshell, not all browsers support WebM video and Vorbis audio. See Supported Media Formats for details.


Mobile Devices

This table lists which mobile devices are officially supported by JW Player, using HTML5:

Device HTML5 Flash
Safari on iPhone yes -
Safari on iPad yes -
Chrome on Android 4 yes -
Browser on Android 4 yes -

For many devices not on this list (e.g. Android 2 or BlackBerry), JW Player will still provide users with an option to play the embedded audio or video file. See Download Fallback for more info.

As with desktop browsers, playback support for the various media formats varies. In a nutshell, MP4 video and AAC/MP3 audio are safe formats for mobile. See Supported Media Formats for more details.

Mobile Limitations

There's a few limitations in video playback on mobile devices compared to desktop browsers:

  • Auto-starting a video on page load is not possible on mobile.
  • Playing multiple videos at the same time is not possible on mobile.
  • Changing the mute state and volume is not possible on mobile.
  • On iPhone only, video is only played in fullscreen mode. On iPad and Android, video can be played either windowed or in fullscreen.

Mode Selection

JW Player 6 has two so-called rendering modes; two underlying browser technologies it can use to play a media format:

  • The HTML5 <video> element. Available on most browsers and most devices.
  • The Adobe Flash plugin. Available on practically all browsers, but not on devices.

All features of JW Player (playlists, skinning, scripting, etc.) are available in both rendering modes. Whether JW Player renders itself in Flash or HTML5 is therefore totally dependent upon the media format(s) that is/are embedded. See Supported Media Formats for details. Here's a quick overview:

  • MP4, AAC, MP3 and HLS can be played in both HTML5 and Flash.
  • WebM and Vorbis can only be played in HTML5 in some browsers.
  • FLV and RTMP can only be played in Flash.

At large, the market is moving away from Flash towards HTML5. Therefore, JW Player prefers to use HTML5 over Flash if a piece of content can be played in both modes on a certain browser. This behavior can be changed however, by setting the configuration option primary to flash. See the Configuration Options Reference for more info.


Multiple Sources

If an embed contains multiple media sources, JW Player 6 will walk through all sources to select the first one that can be played in the primary mode. If none of the sources can be played, JW Player falls back to the secondary mode. A few examples:

  • With a setup containing MP4 + WebM sources and HTML5 primary, JW Player plays MP4 in HTML5 on Chrome, WebM in HTML5 on Firefox and MP4 in Flash on Internet Explorer 8.
  • With a setup containing RTMP + MP4 sources and HTML5 primary, JW Player plays MP4 in HTML5 on Chrome and RTMP in Flash on Firefox and Internet Explorer 8.
  • With a setup containing RTMP + MP4 sources and Flash primary, JW Player plays RTMP in Flash on Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer 8.

See the Configuration Options Reference to learn how to setup multiple sources.


Download Fallback

In certain cases, neither Flash nor HTML5 mode can be used. For example, a visitor might use an older Android or BlackBerry phone. In such cases, JW Player can render a so-called fallback. Which fallback is rendered is defined by the embedded media format:

  • For MP4, AAC or MP3 files, a nicely formatted download link is rendered. The link consists of the poster image with a play button on top of it. When a visitor clicks the link, the device's built-in mediaplayer will play the file.
  • For YouTube videos, the plain YouTube <embed> code is inserted. This triggers a special-case embed of the YouTube player on iOS and Android devices. Videos will simply play inline, but the JW Player interface and API are not available.
  • For FLV, WebM and Vorbis files and RTMP or HLS streams, an Unsupported Media Format error message is displayed. This is because these formats are not supported by built-in mediaplayers.

The fallback option can also be disabled by setting the configuration option fallback to false. In that case, the original HTML is not touched by JW Player. This is useful for setting your own fallback message (e.g. a notification to install Flash). See the Configuration Options Reference for more info.

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