As first reported by CNET, Apple unexpectedly popped up on the Alliance for Open Media web site at present as a “Founding Member.” It would seem Apple has all of a sudden turn out to be critical in regards to the Alliance’s effort to create AV1, an open, royalty-free different to the HEVC/H.265 video codec that’s at present all however essential to ship 4K video over the web.
While “Founding Member” means that Apple was there for the reason that Alliance fashioned in September 2015, the group makes use of the time period to indicate “the best stage” of significance inside its ranks; Facebook obtained the identical title after becoming a member of in November 2017. In different phrases, Apple’s participation might be fairly latest.
But why would Apple care about supporting AV1 now, provided that it solely added H.265 assist to Macs, iOS gadgets, and Apple TVs in September? Here are three possible attainable explanations.
1. Apple desires AV1 for its personal gadgets
If Apple desires to supply video downloads or streams, it could actually now encode all of its recordsdata in HEVC format and stream them to Apple merchandise. What use wouldn’t it have for a competing format with comparable compression effectivity?
Apple is perhaps trying to assist third-party builders who need to stream AV1 movies to Apple gadgets. While Apple most likely wouldn’t want to affix the Alliance to take action — significantly at its highest ranges — it may very well be planning to provide app makers some flexibility, or to transition its gadgets away from the reportedly costly HEVC/H.265 normal at any time when that is smart.
If that sounds loopy, word that Apple very briefly included H.265 assist within the iPhone 6, particularly for making FaceTime calls to different iPhone 6 gadgets, solely to quietly yank and change H.265 with H.264. It wasn’t clear on the time whether or not HEVC licensing or an ongoing lawsuit over FaceTime was accountable, however there’s precedent for Apple to float out and in of assist for video codecs.
2. Apple wants AV1 to stream movies to non-Apple gadgets
This is a extra attention-grabbing risk. Apple can now assure that its HEVC video streams are playable by itself gadgets, however it could actually’t assure that they’re playable on non-Apple gadgets — not each producer is keen to pay HEVC licensing charges, or cope with the kind of messy licensing points Microsoft encountered when including HEVC to Windows 10. If Apple wished its movies to benefit from the bandwidth-saving advantages of HEVC on non-HEVC gadgets, AV1 would be the solely viable different.
As a competitor to H.265, AV1 is backed by everybody from Amazon to Google and Microsoft, and contains work from Cisco’s Thor Project, Google’s VP9 and VP10 codecs, and Mozilla’s Daala. Chipmakers together with ARM, Intel, and Nvidia are on board, as are Cisco, Facebook, and IBM. Due to that roster, it’s straightforward to think about broad assist for AV1 streaming throughout just about each platform with succesful hardware, when it hits the market.
One of the kinds of movies Apple distributes are downloads, that are already playable by iTunes — together with iTunes on Windows. The different kind? Streams. AV1 might allow Apple to stream movies to Android gadgets, which aren’t at present supported by iTunes however do have entry to Apple Music. If Apple’s going to launch a video subscription service, it’s possible going to need to attain Android customers prefer it does with its music service. AV1 is perhaps the neatest approach to take action.
3. Apple doesn’t care (a lot) about AV1, however desires to assist steer AV2
This third clarification isn’t not possible, however doesn’t appear possible. After over two years of improvement, AV1 is reportedly very near being completed, and is anticipated to be feature-complete this month. According to a report from StreamingMedia.com, that will place merchandise with hardware AV1 decoding available in the market by mid-to-late 2019. Encoding of AV1 is outwardly brutally processor-intensive even in contrast with HEVC and VP9, as effectively.
If Apple is actually solely changing into concerned with AV1 at this very late stage, it almost definitely isn’t doing so to steer AV1 improvement — although some technical contributions are attainable. It could also be waiting for serving to an eventual AV2, which may very well be wanted sooner moderately than later to allow 8K video, 60Hz 4K video, and different bandwidth-demanding options that are actually within the very foreseeable future.
What’s almost definitely?
My personal perception is that Apple may very well be getting concerned with the Alliance for Open Media for all three causes. An Apple-branded Netflix-style video subscription service seems to be extremely possible given the corporate’s latest content material improvement offers, and its prolonged delay in adopting H.265 appeared to replicate a real lack of curiosity in paying HEVC licensing charges.
Getting on board now with an open video codec is smart each for 2019 merchandise that might use the usual, and future merchandise that may use its successors.
This article sources info from VentureBeat