Google is stepping up its push for open video formats: The company plans to force hardware manufacturers to support the AV1 video codec if they want to run Android 14 on their mobile devices, according to comments left in recent commits to the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) that were first spotted by Esper senior technical editor Mishaal Rahman.
According to those AOSP comments, the next version of Google’s Android Compatibility Definition document will require hardware makers to support AV1 for both tablets and phones. Previously, devices only had to support VP8 and VP9, two open codecs that are predecessors of AV1.
Google has yet to publicly release the compatibility requirements for Android 14; the company is expected to release a beta version of Android 14 in April 2023. Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
AV1 is a royalty-free video codec spearheaded by the Alliance for Open Media, which counts Google, Amazon, Netflix, and others among its members. Google has been a major supporter of AV1, and has been requiring Android TV device makers to support the codec since last year, as Protocol was first to report two years ago.
Google has also been using YouTube to grow the adoption of AV1. The video service now re-encodes all of its videos in AV1, and has been pushing companies like Roku to support the codec for its living room devices.
AV1 support on mobile has been uneven, however, in part because Qualcomm has yet to add hardware decoding capabilities for the codec to its chipsets. As a result, Google is giving device makers the option to rely on software decoding of AV1 video streams, according to Rahman.
Google’s mandate of AV1 support on Android is just one piece of a broader push for open media formats. The company is also looking to establish royalty-free alternatives to Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision, as Protocol was first to report last week.