RealPlayer, formerly RealAudio Player, RealOne Player and RealPlayer G2, is a cross-platform media player app, developed by RealNetworks. The media player is compatible with numerous container file formats of the multimedia realm, including MP3, MP4, QuickTime File Format, Windows Media format, and the proprietary RealAudio and RealVideo formats. RealPlayer is also available for other operating systems, Linux, Unix, Palm OS, Windows Mobile, and Symbian versions have been released.
The program is powered by an underlying open-source media engine called Helix.
The first version of RealPlayer was introduced on April 3, 1995 as "RealAudio Player" and was one of the first media players capable of streaming media over the Internet. Then, version 4.01 of RealPlayer was included as a selectable Internet tool in Windows 98's installation package. Subsequent versions of the software were titled "RealPlayer G2" (version 6) and "RealOne Player" (version 9), while free "Basic" versions as well as paid "Plus" versions, the latter with additional features, have also been offered. For the Windows OS, the RealPlayer version 9 subsumed the features of the separate program, RealJukebox.
RealPlayer 11 was released for Microsoft Windows in November 2007 and for Mac OS X in May 2008. RealPlayer 15 was released on November 18, 2011. This version allows users to transfer video, music and photos between their computers and mobile devices, share links of videos and photos on sites such as Facebook and MySpace, and download videos from popular sites such as YouTube and Metacafe.
RealPlayer was initially accessed by many users as a plugin to watch streaming video or listen to streaming audio (for example, most of the BBC's websites formerly employed the plugin); but in the early 21st century, Adobe Flash and subsequently HTML5 video became preferred options for this purpose.
In February 2016, RealNetworks released RealPlayer 18, which incorporated the features of the previous year's release of RealTimes, an app that makes multimedia montages from users' photographs and videos, backed up and accessible via cloud storage. The Real.com Blog states that "RealPlayer with RealTimes (aka "RealPlayer" for short) will still include the legacy features, such as Downloader, Converter, and Web Videos. It will also still include our RealTimes features, such as Photos and RealTimes Stories, our automatic video collage feature." Note that as of 2018, the publisher only provides RealTime for use on a Mac and no longer publishes a media player called RealPlayer for macOS.
Features of RealPlayer include a video download utility, a web browser, "visualizations" (graphical animations or "light shows" that appear on the screen when playing music), equalizer and video controls (including Crossfade and Gapless playback in RealPlayer Plus), recording audio, CD ripping, and a media converter which allows converting files to a variety of common audio and video formats.
Photo and Video Sharing - users can post videos to Facebook and Twitter directly from the software, as well as share directly to friends and family via email or SMS messages.