News and Notes related to Digital Media Transcription, Analysis, and Captioning.
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  • Retiring QuickTime

    Posted on March 7th, 2014 matt No comments

    When Apple released QuickTime in 1991, it was revolutionary. QuickTime provided a straightforward means to open and play a wide variety of audio and video formats. Over the years, Apple enhanced QuickTime, adding support for additional formats, subtitles, Windows support, and even a handful of interactive features.

    When InqScribe debuted (nearly 10 years ago!), QuickTime was arguably in its prime. InqScribe has always relied on QuickTime to handle media playback: for a long time our support slogan was “if QuickTime can play it, so can InqScribe.” InqScribe also relied on QuickTime’s subtitle track support to give our users a straightforward way to produce standalone subtitled movies.

    We’ve been very happy with the relationship between InqScribe and QuickTime. But the writing is on the wall: QuickTime is now over 20 years old, an eternity in software terms. And Apple has been very clear that QuickTime is no longer the way forward. Apple has officially deprecated QuickTime, to the point of warning developers that apps submitted to the App Store will be rejected if they continue to use QuickTime.

    (InqScribe is not sold through the App Store, so this warning doesn’t impact us directly. But we get the point.)

    So we’ve made the decision that future versions of InqScribe will no longer use QuickTime. Which raises two key questions: how will InqScribe manage media playback, and how will our users be able to quickly produce subtitled videos?

    For OS X, InqScribe will use AVFoundation for media playback. AVFoundation is Apple’s official replacement for QuickTime and offers decent subtitle support. AVFoundation has the additional feature that it is also used for media playback on iPhones and iPads, so moving to AVFoundation should simplify the process of producing subtitled content for Apple’s mobile devices.

    For Windows, InqScribe could probably get by continuing to rely on Windows Media Player, but we want to look closely at moving to either DirectShow or its modern successor, Media Foundation. Of these options we’d prefer to use DirectShow, because Media Foundation doesn’t yet have strong support for subtitles. (Unlike Apple and QuickTime, Microsoft continues to support DirectShow).

    Beyond the native media engines for OS X and Windows, we are also looking at whether InqScribe can support alternative media engines that would enable playback of additional media formats or provide additional functionality that the native engines lack. Examples of engines in this class include VLCGStreamer, and web-based solutions to play back online content like YouTube or Vimeo.

    InqScribe will continue to export a wide range of subtitling formats, and we will make sure that it will continue to be easy to generate subtitled content that can be viewed with standard apps on OS X and Windows.

    It’s worth noting that moving to more modern media playback engines will mean that future versions of InqScribe will not run on some older systems. We’ll have a separate post soon talking about the next release and InqScribe’s minimum system requirements.

    If you have questions or concerns about these changes, feel free to get in touch and we’ll be happy to clarify. We’ll be continually updating this support article with frequently asked questions and answers. And you can always contact us via our support page.

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