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Apple is seemingly preparing to add AV1 video codec support

18 Jul 2022 | Rasmus Larsen |

Apple has added a new option for AV1 video in its AVFoundation framework, suggesting that the company is almost ready to roll out AV1 support across tvOS, iOS, iPadOS and macOS.

AV1 is a new video format from Amazon, Apple, Google, Microsoft, Netflix and others. In the Alliance for Open Media they have created AV1 with the intention of it being a royalty-free alternative to HEVC (H.265), which is used for 4K streaming and UHD Blu-ray.

However, while major TV makers have already implemented AV1 video decoding support in hardware and Google (YouTube) and Netflix have started streaming video in AV1, Apple has yet to implement system-level support for AV1 in its products despite being a founding member of the alliance.

 Also read: Google, Meta & Netflix's AV1 alliance under EU antitrust investigation

That may change soon as new code added in tvOS/iOS API 16.0 references AV1, specifically the global variable kCMVideoCodecType_AV1 in AVFoundation (here).

This is on top of support for existing video codecs that are labeled kCMVideoCodecType_MPEG4, *_HEVC, *_DolbyVisionHEVC, *_VP9 and so on in AVFoundation, which is Apple's framework for audiovisual media. The change was spotted by and first reported by Neowin.

New Apple TV with AV1?

Apple's latest chip, M2, does not appear to feature hardware support for AV1 but the company could add support for software decoding in some existing products. When Apple implemented support for HEVC in 2017, all iOS, tvOS and Mac devices capable of running iOS/tvOS 11 or macOS High Sierra gained HEVC support, many in software. Apple is reportedly planning to launch an A14-based Apple TV later this year – a prime candidate for AV1. - Source: Apple, Neowin, Codeworkshop

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