Google and Mozilla have added support for the new AV1 video codec in development versions of their respective browsers, according to a report by Ghacks. AV1 is poised to replace HEVC and become the de-facto video standard.
First implementations of AV1
AV1 is an open source and royalty-free video format that has been developed by a consortium of companies (Alliance for Open Media) that include Apple, Amazon, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Mozilla, Netflix, and others. The initiative was announced in 2015 and AV1 is meant to replace the royalty-based HEVC video format.
AV1 is now one step closer to reaching viewers. Google and Mozilla have recently implemented support in development versions of their respective browsers (Chrome 69 and Firefox 63). It is currently deactivated by default and only the Main profile is supported but it is a start. Chrome and Firefox will be the first browsers to offer support for AV1 once it gets included in public releases of the browsers.
- The AV1 decoder will be added to Chrome Desktop (Windows, macOS, Linux, Chrome OS) based on the official bitstream specification, Google wrote in a status update.
AV1 was formally released in April 2018. Facebook and YouTube are planning to start using AV1 for video streaming as soon as possible in HTML5 browsers. Netflix has also committed to using AV1 for video streaming. TVs and streaming boxes with hardware support for AV1 are expected to arrive in 2019, with wider deployment in 2020.
Mozilla has previously said that AV1 cuts files sizes by 25-35% compared to HEVC and VP9. Bitmovin has said that it outperforms VP9 and HEVC by up to 30-40%. However, other parties have contested the results saying that AV1 offers only modest gains while it requires significantly more powerful hardware to encode and decode. Still, an open and royalty-free video format should be music to ears of consumers and industry players who have suffered through the licensing disaster of HEVC.
With web browsers starting to add support for AV1, we are entering phase 2 of the adoption roadmap announced earlier this year by the Alliance for Open Media. AV1 is designed to support video all the way from SD resolution to 8K HDR and beyond in the future.