I don’t know how I missed this one: Google has taken iframe embedding out of beta and quietly made it the default choice. I noticed yesterday, when looking to embed a video here at Betanews. The default had been Adobe Flash with iframe embedding optional and labeled beta; where iframe was placed in the embed options there now is “use old embed code,” meaning Flash. I’ve been embedding with the iframe code for months so Betanews readers using iPads or smartphones could watch embedded YouTube videos. Based on forum chatter, Google made the change as recently as four days ago.

Technically, the player isn’t Flash-free. It’s more like Flash is no longer required. Videos can stream in Flash or HTML5 video depending on the player detected. For reasons that don’t make much sense from a consumer experience perspective, YouTube videos using the new embed code won’t play on Safari without Flash installed (presumably other browsers, but I haven’t yet tested). YouTube detects the browser and presents notice that Flash is necessary to play the video. It’s not. YouTube is blocking HTML5 streamed content. Changing the browser’s identification to “Mobile Safari — iPad” solves the problem. But why is that necessary?

There has been some chatter about the embed code change over at Google’s YouTube API forum. I’ve collected a small sampling of questions (which I’ve condensed) and responses from Jeff Posnick, who is part of Google’s YouTube API Team.

1. Will the old embed code go away?

“We are in no way dropping support for the older embed codes. The only change that was made is in what type of embed code is generated by default.”

2. Is there JavaScript support?

“There’s no JavaScript API support right now, but it is something that the engineering team plans on adding in the future. We can’t commit to anything right now, but I believe the general idea is to expose an API that is very similar if not identical to the existing interfaces and methods.”