macOS Big Sur gets support for 4K YouTube videos in latest beta

YouTube in Safari on iMac Pro
YouTube videos can look a lot better thanks to macOS Big Sur Beta 4.
Photo: Apple/Cult of Mac

Apple seeded macOS Big Sur beta 4 to developers on Tuesday, and the hottest new feature is very high-resolution YouTube videos. Once Mac users get their hands on the OS upgrade this autumn, they’ll be able to stream video from this service in 4K.

The big news came quietly buried in the macOS Big Sur 11 beta 4 release notes. In the Safari category, the sole entry for new features is “Support for 4K HDR playback of YouTube videos.”<!– –>

It’s not really surprising Apple buried this light under a bushel. It also gave iOS, iPadOS and tvOS support for 4K YouTube video just as quietly.

What’s happening behind the scenes is Apple has begun supporting Google’s VP9 video codec. That’s the one used for 4K video on YouTube. Without it, this streaming service maxes out at 1080p.

In addition to this small change, Mac users will see a big design overhaul in the next iteration of macOS, which is version 11. That includes updated application icons.

macOS Big Sur Beta 4 not ready for the public. Yet.

Currently, the fourth beta of macOS Big Sur is only for paying members of Apple’s developer program. But that likely will change soon.

In the past, Apple introduced public beta versions a day or two after the developer ones. These are only available to those in the Apple Beta Software Program. But this is free. The full release is expected in autumn.