Netflix for Android now supports something called an AV1 codec which offers improved compression when streaming online. In a nutshell, the upgrade means you should use less data when binging on “selected titles”, so you can worry less about exceeding your monthly allowance and being faced with an eye-watering fee. The AV1 codec standard should offer 20 percent improved compression efficiency over the previous standard, VP9. Essentially, that means all content streamed should retain the same picture quality, it’ll just be less of a drain on your data allowance.
Google introduced support for AV1 on Android with the release of Android 10 back in September. Netflix isn’t the only video platform to adopt the codec though, Vimeo welcomed with open arms last year.
In a blog post, Netflix announced its AV1 support and emphasised its importance on mobile where data limits can be limited and cellular networks can be unreliable.
The streaming giant said: “Today we are excited to announce that Netflix has started streaming AV1 to our Android mobile app. AV1 is a high performance, royalty-free video codec that provides 20 percent improved compression efficiency over our VP9† encodes. AV1 is made possible by the wide-ranging industry commitment of expertise and intellectual property within the Alliance for Open Media (AOMedia), of which Netflix is a founding member.
“Our support for AV1 represents Netflix’s continued investment in delivering the most efficient and highest quality video streams. For our mobile environment, AV1 follows on our work with VP9, which we released as part of our mobile encodes in 2016 and further optimised with shot-based encodes in 2018.
“While our goal is to roll out AV1 on all of our platforms, we see a good fit for AV1’s compression efficiency in the mobile space where cellular networks can be unreliable, and our members have limited data plans. Selected titles are now available to stream in AV1 for customers who wish to reduce their cellular data usage by enabling the ‘Save Data’ feature.”
At the moment Netflix has said the AV1 codec is only supported for “selected titles”, meaning it’s currently unclear what movies and TV shows support it. However, it’s expected the streaming firm will increase the catalogue of compatible content as time goes on.
The ability to stream while using less data can be activated on Android by enabling Netflix’s “Save Data” feature. This can be found by pressing the menu button in the upper right-hand or upper left-hand corner and heading to App Settings > Cellular Data Usage.
That said, Netflix hasn’t clarified which Android devices support AV1. However, it’s presumed smartphones will need to run Android 10 to take advantage, as that’s the only Android version with support for the new codec.
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