iPad 3G Has Unexpected Video Playback Restrictions
The iPad 3G, a version of the previously released iPad that can access the Internet via AT&T's network, has only been in consumer hands for a few days and already reports are flowing in about troubles with video playback on Apple's device. Even more surprising is the news that those troubles aren't mistakes.
Many iPad 3G users have reported that some streaming video either looks grainy or doesn't play at all when streamed over 3G instead of Wi-Fi. YouTube videos over a 3G connection get "dramatically lower resolution," according to iLounge, and TV episodes on the ABC player won't work at all over 3G, even though they are perfectly fine over Wi-Fi.
It turns out that video streaming sites are laboring under a different set of requirements when streaming over 3G.
The iPad 3G carries over an iPhone OS live streaming rule that dictates app developers "must include a low quality stream of no more than 64 kilobytes per second (kbps) for your app to resort to when network conditions demand it." That means that streaming over the 3G connection will revert YouTube app videos to the lower resolution version, which explains the drop in video quality when compared to Wi-fi streaming.
The ABC Player has the same restrictions, except ABC has opted not to include lower-resolution 3G versions of their videos at all. ABC has to make its video player Wi-Fi only because the video rights for shows are different when streamed over Wi-Fi and 3G. For now, it seems that the ABC video player app will never stream video over 3G.
Problems with video playback have been reported for other apps using a 3G connection as well, including the Netflix app, and they all seem to be a result of hardwired restrictions in the iPad itself.