Google starts to demand support for AV1 video decoding in new Android TV boxes

Google starts to demand support for AV1 video decoding in new Android TV boxes

There is a wide variety of device manufacturers, application and OS developers, and streaming services. Therefore, it is important that key players support universal video formats, providing better user experience, reduced web usage, and support for a wide range of devices.

The Alliance for Open Media AV1 video codec is designed for efficient video transmission over the Internet with minimal impact on quality. The key advantage of the standard is that it is completely free, so companies do not need to pay any license fees. Unfortunately, the implementation of the standard has been slow so far. But the spread of AV1 could accelerate in 2021, as Google reportedly started requiring all new Android TV products to support AV1 video decoding.

AV1 is gaining popularity for streaming on the Internet, but there aren’t many services yet offering their content in this standard. YouTube streams some videos in AV1; Vimeo also offers some videos on the Staff Picks channel in AV1; and selected Netflix movies and TV shows are played in AV1 if traffic saving mode is enabled. Google, one of the biggest supporters of AV1, recently announced plans to use AV1 for its full range of video applications and services.

For wider adoption of AV1, more devices are needed that support the standard in hardware. To this end, Google requires all new Android TV devices released after March 31, 2021 to support AV1 video decoding. At least, this is indicated by an internal slide that fell into the hands of XDA journalists. This requirement applies to all new TV products launching with Android 10 or Android 11 this year. The slide is part of last year’s Google presentation for Android TV partners, so the timing is questionable.

There is more evidence that Google is making AV1 support mandatory for all future Android TV devices. The company reportedly requires AV1 video decoding support for all 4K HDR and 8K Android TV devices that run Android 10. The AndroidTV Guide indicates that all released 4K HDR Android TV devices come with AV1-enabled SoCs: MediaTek T30 for example. T31, T32 or Realtek RTD2851M. Specifically, the TCL X915 8K TV supports AV1 decoding thanks to the Realtek RTD2851M in combination with the RTD2893, making it one of the first TVs to support 8K video streaming from YouTube.

FlatPanelsHD announced that all 2021 Sony TVs will support AV1 video decoding. Sony is equipping its TVs with Android TVs and will continue this practice in 2021. According to FlatPanelsHD, LG and Samsung, which both use their own operating systems, have already begun rolling out AV1 support in some of their TVs. Other devices such as smartphones, tablets and PCs have also recently received support for AV1 video. Smartphone chips like the MediaTek Dimensity 1000 or Samsung Exynos 2100 support AV1 decoding, just like 11th Gen Intel Core processors; NVIDIA GeForce RTX 30 and AMD Radeon RX 6000 graphics cards also support AV1. Unfortunately, Qualcomm has never implemented AV1 support even in Snapdragon 888. One way or another, perhaps 2021 will be a watershed year for the standard, at least on the Web.

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