When will AV1 start being?


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    When will AV1 start being used on social media?_NIf you've watched the recommended video formats for social media platforms, you'll notice that most share one thing in common: H.264.

    For many years, H.264 has been supreme as the king of video codecs. Its use in online videos is very common, although some platforms use VP8 or VP9.

    But the recent AV1 format release is likely to change everything. In theory, it could completely replace H.264 entirely on social media - but the question is when will it begin to be used?

    How can AV1 benefit social media platforms?


    AV1 is a next generation video codec developed from Alliance of Open Media (AOMedia). AOMedia members have come together to create a codec specifically designed to cater to the growing demand for higher quality online video.

    For social media platforms, there are two main aspects of AV1 that make it an attractive option

    AV1 compression is more effective than any current generation of video codecs. Testing has shown that it can offer up to 30% to 40% increase in formats like HEVC and VP9.

    It is hoped that the increase could be even better at higher resolutions.

    That can make a world of difference for social media. Not only does this mean that the amount of storage space required by the video will be significantly less, but the network and bandwidth requirements for streaming them are also reduced.

    As 4K displays become more popular and the demand for 4K videos continues to increase, any improvements to video compression will have a big impact.

    Overall, this will make the cost significantly lower for media platforms.

    • Royalty free
    From our point of view, AV1 is designed to be a royalty free replacement for HEVC. All members of AOMedia involved in the development agreed to license their patents on a royalty-free basis.

    The use of royalty-free codecs will certainly attract social media platforms and will reduce the management and licensing fees for using codecs for video distribution. On top of that, it will be less complicated to navigate, especially with the current licensing structure of many formats.

    A major barrier that has consistently delayed the application of HEVC is the complex licensing structure. In theory, that would not be a problem for AV1 due to the lack of royalties.

    Between both of these benefits, social media platforms will save significant costs by adopting the AV1 format. That is why you may wonder: Why don't they apply it?

    The reason communication platforms haven't switched to AV1 yet


    Although media platforms can transfer their videos to AV1, this is still not a good idea. Because communication does not exist in a vacuum and it requires the ecosystem around AV1 before it can move a significant portion of its videos.



    In particular, there are many key hurdles that need to be passed for social media to start rolling out AV1 videos:

    • Software decoder
    To help viewers watch AV1 videos, the format needs to be decoded. That's why software decoders are needed as well as will need to be present in user devices for media platforms to serve AV1 video.

    • Browser support
    Software decoder availability is a start, but they need to be supported in browsers that are applicable to viewing social media platforms. However, that's been done, because desktop versions of browsers like Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Opera already support AV1 in one form or another.

    Microsoft Edge can also support AV1 videos, via AV1 Video Extensions from the Microsoft Store. That makes Safari a major browser that does not support the format, as well as mobile browsers.

    Hardware support for AV1 encoding and decoding is important, especially for videos viewed on mobile devices. The CPU-intensive nature of coding and decoding software is not good for mobile and requires a lot of battery power.

    Chips that support hardware for AV1 are only expected by the end of 2019. It will take some time until they appear in consumer devices, probably only in 2020.

    Although the AV1 encoder number is available, there are questions about their performance. For now, one of the better options seems to be the SVT-AV1 encoder developed by Intel and Netflix.

    There will be nothing until there is hardware support for AV1 to be able to perform a real performance test. It will have to be satisfactory enough that social media platforms can justify the use of the codec format.

    Suffice it to say these barriers are the reason why the communication platform has not yet moved to AV1. However, just as progress has been made for each of them, social media platforms are also making progress in their own way.

    Through current AV1 on social media


    Although AV1 is a long way from replacing H.264 on platforms, it has begun to be tested and used.

    One of the first tests of AV1 was done by Facebook. It has tested the format on the 400 most viewed public videos and reported encouraging results with 50% increase in compression.

    Immediately after Facebook ran the test, YouTube also began testing AV1 through the AV1 Beta Launching List. The playlist includes a selection of 14 popular content videos from the platform encoded at high bit rates to test the performance of the format.

    Challenges in the future


    Some of the challenges that AV1 may face in the future are:

    • Legal challenges and patent claims can affect its copyright free status.

    • The delay in hardware support affects the timeline for devices to reach consumers.

    • Performance issues when encoding or decoding AV1 videos require optimization.
    The first challenge may cause the most problems.

    If AV1's royalty free status is challenged, it could affect its viability.

    Other challenges may delay the adoption of AV1 by social media platforms but in the long run will not hinder it.

    Epilogue


    On social media channels, Facebook (Instagram) and YouTube (through Google) have the ability to pioneer the use of AV1 when both are founding members of AOMedia. However, due to the format's benefits, other platforms will apply too.

    In summary, there is no clear timeline when AV1 will be more widely applied on communication channels. Next year or so will provide a clearer picture of whether or not it will truly replace H.264 as the format of choice for most social media platforms.

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