​A Quick Guide to Apple HTTP Live Streaming

If you’re a proud “iProduct” owner, then you probably enjoy streaming all sorts of media to your device. Have you ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes, though? This quick guide will explain how Apple delivers their high quality streaming experience right to your device.

image1Take a look at this: “How to Monitor IIS Performance: From the Basics to Advanced IIS Performance Monitoring” article if you’re looking for to learn more on IIS monitoring.

It Starts With HTTP

Apple’s HTTP Live Streaming is a hybrid media delivery method that acts as your regular streaming service, think Netflix or Youtube, but is based on HTTP progressive downloading that works in small chunks to keep things running smoother.

Simple enough so far, but there’s a lot more to it than just a better way to stream content.

Understanding IIS

This HTTP approach to streaming media is rooted in IIS Live Smooth Streaming. This enable media to be played across multiple platforms without having to be re-encoded. Simply put, you and someone using a Microsoft product were streaming the exact same code earlier when you both watched that video on Facebook.

The current platform is IIS Media Services 4, which turns incoming MP4 media into MPEG-2 TS segments while generating a file that Apple can use. Basically, the coding is warped into something that runs on your Apple device.

What makes this process so advanced is that it only has to be done once before it can be played on multiple screens, all without duplicating the required bandwidth. This is done by putting both the audio and video into one file on Apple’s server to be sent over in small increments on demand when you need it. Add that to the fact that these files no longer have to be torn apart then re-stitched together, and you have a highly advanced server streaming system.

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Tying Back to Apple

So, what services from Apple does all this technical jargon help with? Nearly everything media related, to be honest. Here are some of the HTTP Live Streaming features you use on daily basis that are supported by IIS Media Services 4

  • The DVR “sliding window”: This is is the nifty feature that allows you to skip back in a live stream, ensuring that you don’t miss a thing.
  • Segmented Archives: These archives conveniently help you to use larger files by breaking them down into smaller segments, often saving your memory space and data usage.
  • B-frames: These are essential to viewing video. Basically, the frames are compressed in a way that allows your eyes to register the spatial motion.
  • HE-AAC: Skipping the technical mumbo-jumbo, this is how your device streams audio files.
  • On-Demand: No, not Direct TV. This simply means that you can access your files and playlists whenever you want. IIS stores them in the same folders as Smooth Streaming-formatted content, making retrieval of this data fast and efficient.
  • iOS 3.0 Compatibility: The legacy iOS 3.0 mobile operating system requires .ts and .m3u8 extensions on its URLs. IIS makes sure they’re there to keep things running as smooth as possible.
  • AES-128 Encryption: This algorithm is used in both hardware and software to keep your sensitive information, like in an email or on an app. When it comes to streaming, this is how Apple protects credit card information and more for your subscriptions.

From iOS 3.0 all the way to 5.0, every Apple device utilizes the SSI platform to deliver a high quality experience to their buyers. Next time you’re streaming your favorite TV show, you’ll have a better idea of just how Apple makes the process so flawless.


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