Google looks set to be putting its weight behind AV1 by making support for the video codec a prerequisite for any upcoming Android TV 10 device.
According to a report by Android TV Guide (opens in new tab), any TV, set-top box or anything else looking to use the latest version of Google's smart platform will need to include an AV1 decoder built-in at the chip level if launched after the 31st March 2021 deadline (opens in new tab).
Fortunately, the policy looks likely to affect new devices only. The most recent Chromecast with Google TV is Android TV 10-based but does not support AV1 itself and the sensible guess is that Google would not stand in the way of any further updates either for this or any other current Android-based smart TVs but there is no confirmation here.
There could otherwise be a fair amount of uproar from current Android TV 9 device users given that the AV1 decoder cannot be delivered as a software upgrade.
AV1 is the next evolution of the defacto video streaming codec and is planned as the successor to the HEVC (H.265) format which is currently used for 4K HDR video on platforms such as Prime Video, Apple TV+, Disney Plus and Netflix.
It was developed by the Alliance for Open Media, which counts Amazon, Apple, ARM, Facebook, Google, Intel, Microsoft, Mozilla, Netflix, Nvidia and Samsung amoung its members, and is designed to offer internet streaming efficiency upgrades without affecting quality. Google has already implemented some AV1 use onto YouTube and requires AV1 support to view its 8K videos on TV.
The most recent Google TV-toting Sony TV line-up for 2021 includes an AV1 decoder on the Bravia XR chip but it will be interesting to see which other TV manufactures have future-proofed in the same way for this year and how that may affect those who plan to use Android TV going forward.
We look forward to hearing official word from Google on the matter.
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