Did Apple just end the codec wars?
The iPhone news you didn't know you needed
Welcome to Lowpass, a newsletter about the future of entertainment and the next big hardware platforms, including smart TVs, ambient computing and AR / VR. This week: Apple is officially embracing open video codecs, and Amazon and Google make peace over in-app video purchases.
Apple embraces AV1 for its newest phones
This week’s announcement of Apple’s new iPhones came with a bit of a surprise: The new A17 Pro chip, which powers the iPhone 15 Pro, is the first Apple-made chip to support hardware-based AV1 video decoding.
Adding AV1 decoding capabilities to the iPhone will enable “more efficient, high-quality video experiences for streaming services,” according to Apple. It also gives the open AV1 video codec, which had seen slow adoption from hardware makers, a massive boost. “It relaunches the competition,” one industry insider told me this week. “Without that, AV1 was dead.”
What’s more, Apple throwing its weight behind AV1 sets the stage for an industry-wide effort to move to open codecs for next-generation video services and experiences. However, as always, the devil remains in the details, which is why that aforementioned insider told me that “the war is just getting started.”
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