Vimeo has long been a very popular place for creatives to share and upload videos, but in recent months the service and player have begun to show their age, with some very necessary features still missing. The team has been hard at work to update behind the scenes, so if you've completely given up on the video sharing site, it might be time to give them another look, as they've significantly updated their player and changed quite a bit under the hood. Here's a quick video which shows off the new player:
Vimeo Gets a Facelift
Here are some of the new features posted in their blog:
- Lightning Fast Playback
- In-Player Purchasing: Rent or buy Vimeo on Demand literally anywhere a video is embedded
- Redesigned Share Screen
- Integrated Login: Login screen will automatically pop up if you want to do something like Share or Watch Later and you're logged out
- Fully Accessible: Keyboard Navigation and WCAG2AA support
- HTML5 by Default: This means Flash will be phased out sooner rather than later, allowing for more compatibility across the board and better performance
- Preference Sync: Anything you change in one Vimeo player will automatically change in any other Vimeo players open in your browser
- Closed captions & subtitles support: They currently support SRT, WebVTT, DFXP/TTML, SCC, and SAMI formats. You can read more about subtitles and closed captions here.
While some people have better luck with playback on YouTube, and others with Vimeo, there is no question the player and back-end needed some updating. Though most of the updates don't drastically change the way the player works, they will make for a better experience all around. Specifically, closed captions and subtitle support means multiple versions of a video don't have to be embedded anymore -- which is especially helpful if you're trying to embed things just in one place but still want it as accessible as possible.
I've really never had too much of an issue with either Vimeo or YouTube playback, but things can get a little tricky when you're skipping forward past the portion that has already been loaded in the player. Either way, your experience will still be very dependent on your hardware, connection, and location in the world, so you may or may not notice an immediate improvement in playback speed on Vimeo.
These are all welcome changes, but the biggest issue for me is still the fact that you can't select different resolutions in the player. For example, here's a video that's been uploaded in 1080, and is defaulted to play that way no matter what (this is from my Digital Bolex review):
Vimeo makes a 720p conversion at some point, and you then must select whether you want it to appear in 1080p or not. Once you select the 1080p option, the 720p version goes away. This would seem great on the surface, but there are plenty of times where I've been on a bad connection and I simply want to watch the 720p version -- or maybe the connection is really bad and I just want to watch the 640 x 360 version. Since Vimeo isn't actually streaming -- it's doing what is called progressive download where the video is simply downloaded to your cache as you watch -- it should be possible to implement down the road. New resolutions above 1080p would be great too see in the future, but I think being able to select what resolution plays back in the browser very easily would make for a far better experience overall.
Search Works Again
At some point in time Vimeo search completely broke, and it stayed that way for so long I forgot when it actually broke. Searching for the exact thing you wanted returned completely unrelated videos. Even searching your own name didn't always give you anything useful. That all seems to be mostly fixed, as the search function will now actually give you results you're looking for. It's still not perfect, but it's not unusable anymore. But don't take my word for it, go try it out for yourself.
What would you like to see Vimeo improve upon in the future? What do you think is still missing compared to competing services?