Apple Joins Consortium to Develop Better Industry Standard Video Compression

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There was a little while there where unlimited data plans went the way of the Dodo bird, which left many wireless subscribers making sure to pinch their downloads on a monthly basis.

One way to make a big dent in the available monthly data allotment is to watch videos. Now that unlimited plans are back on the market, watching your data on a regular basis may not be as important, but that doesn’t mean streaming video, or downloading videos, should eat up huge chunks of your data before you start getting throttled by your wireless carrier.

So, that’s where the Alliance for Open Media comes in. This is a consortium of technology companies, including names like Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and, now, Apple. The goal for this group of companies is to build a new industry standard high-efficiency video codec that will ultimately be called AV1. Apple is actually the last of the big name tech companies to join the ranks, which also includes the likes of Intel, Netflix, Hulu, and others. Apple’s name was added to the list today, as reported by CNET.

“The Alliance for Open Media is working on technology called AV1 that compresses video before it’s stored or sent over the network. That technology is crucial to keeping your phone from running out of storage space or your data plan from pushing past monthly limits. But compression technology is useful only when it’s widely supported, and Apple was a major holdout.

Apple quietly joined the alliance as a founding member, according to the group’s website, which was updated with the change Wednesday. Apple’s plans for AV1 aren’t yet clear — the company didn’t respond to a request for comment — but joining as a founding member sends a strong signal of support.”

The consortium is also working on a variety of other projects, but the best news comes in this potential industry-wide video codec that could keep video highly detailed, and yet less stressful on a mobile data connection, or even the data cap from your ISP. Unfortunately there’s no word on when AV1 might be ready to go for the public, or even adopted by these companies.

Our Take

The fact that we’re talking about Apple joining a consortium working towards an industry standard is pretty impressive in its own right. After all, this is a company that is 100% not shy about using its own technology, both hardware and software. The benefits for a industry-standard video codec, though, are pretty obvious, and if it means we as consumers don’t need to worry about what internet browser we’re using to watch certain content, that’s a good thing all around.

[via CNET; AOM]