Firefox for Android has expanded its HTML5 video capabilities to include H.264 video playback. Web developers have been using Adobe Flash to play H.264 video on Firefox for Android, but Adobe no longer supports Flash for Android. Mozilla needed a new solution, so Firefox now uses Android’s “Stagefright” library to access hardware video decoders. The challenges posed by H.264 patents and royalties have been documented elsewhere.
Firefox currently supports H.264 playback on any device running Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) and any Samsung device running Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich). We have temporarily blocked non-Samsung devices running Ice Cream Sandwich until we can fix or workaround some bugs. Support for Gingerbread and Honeycomb devices is planned for a later release (Bug 787228).
To test whether Firefox supports H.264 on your device, try playing this “Big Buck Bunny” video.
If your device is not supported yet, you can manually enable H.264 for testing. Enter
about:config in Firefox for Android’s address bar, then search for “stagefright”. Toggle the “stagefright.force-enabled” preference to
true. H.264 should work on most Ice Cream Sandwich devices, but Gingerbread and Honeycomb devices will probably crash.
If Firefox does not recognize your hardware decoder, it will use a safer (but slower) software decoder. Daring users can manually enable hardware decoding. Enter
about:config as described above and search for “stagefright”. To force hardware video decoding, change the “media.stagefright.omxcodec.flags” preference to
16. The default value is
0, which will try the hardware decoder and fall back to the software decoder if there are problems (Bug 797225). The most likely problems you will encounter are videos with green lines or crashes.
Giving feedback/reporting bugs
If you find any video bugs, please file a bug report here so we can fix it! Please include your device model, Android OS version, the URL of the video, and any
about:config preferences you have changed. Log files collected from aLogcat or adb logcat are also very helpful.
About Chris Peterson
Chris is a developer on Mozilla's Firefox for Android team.