Workaround for the Safari Fairplay regression in iOS and iPadOS 15

What is the problem? 

As some of you are likely aware of, a regression was introduced in the iOS & iPadOS 15 versions. The issue has an impact upon playback of Fairplay protected streams in Safari. As a result, all video players (including Apple’s own playback support) which attempt to play an impacted Fairplay stream in browsers will receive an error.

When will it be resolved?

Since the release of iOS & iPadOS 15, Apple has published the beta versions for their next software: iOS & iPadOS 15.1. To date, two beta versions have been released. In the first beta release fixes a part of the problem, but testing of our teams shows situations still occur where some devices are unable to play affected streams. Our team has confirmed however that the second beta (released on the 28th of September) does resolve the full issue.

The question remains when Apple will release the GA version of iOS & iPadOS 15.1, and as usual with updates on iPhone and iPad, one can only guess. While it is our expectation the version will be released shortly, impact on services is still there.

How can we work around this?

Our team has however identified which configurations of streams can still be used despite the regression in iOS & iPadOS 15. In contrast to the most common combinations of HLS with MPEG-TS, HLS streams which make use of fMP4 CBCS can still be played. As such, there are two potential ways to re-enable playback for your viewers:

  1. Point them towards native applications (which are not impacted by the regression).
  2. Publish your streams using the fMP4 container rather than an MPEG-TS container.

Switching all streams towards fMP4 is likely not an option for all streaming services: it requires some heavy testing to make these kind of changes, and can break compatibility with old devices (not even mentioning the need to repackage old VOD libraries). For those where it is however an option this solution might provide a way out of this regression without waiting for the iOS & iPadOS 15.1 release. In case of any questions on this, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team.

Any questions regarding the topic? Get in touch.

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