Video calls without jerks and with more quality thanks to the new AV1 encoder coming in the next stable versions of Chrome: here's what changes.
Among the updates of Google Chrome that should arrive with the next stable releases, i.e. those intended for all users and not just beta testers, there could be a useful support for video calls, even if made with poor connections. This is the AV1 codec and is already present in the beta 90 version of Google's browser, currently under test.
A few days after the last stable release of the desktop browser, now at version 89, Google has started the general tests of the current beta aiming once again to improve performance. As the most attentive have already noticed from the changelog, this time the choice of Mountain View has fallen on the inclusion in the package - already available for download through the Play Store or APK Mirror - of a few new features, focusing instead on the speed of execution of operations and efficiency of the components integrated into the releases of recent months.
Google Chrome and AV1 codec, what changes
AV1 is the free and open source video codec that has replaced the old H.264/AVC on streaming services. According to the developers themselves, compared to its predecessor and other compression standards such as H.265 and VP9, AV1 would be able to offer better compression efficiency as well as maintain better image quality, despite the smaller size of the files encoded in this format.
Focal point of use is, however, related to videoconferencing applications based on the WebRTC framework, such as Google Meet or Facebook Messenger. Through the use of this codec, users will be able to count on an improved compression capacity while using less bandwidth than before. According to Google itself, the improvements brought by AV1 will allow you to make video calls even using connections up to 30 Kbps speed.
AV1: encoder and decoder
AV1 is not an absolute novelty for Chrome: Google has included it in the desktop version of its browser since release 70 dating back about two years ago. At that time, however, Google only included the "decoder", ie the software that serves to play videos encoded in AV1 (such as YouTube videos in 4K).
The news that will arrive soon, however, is the presence in Chrome of an "encoder", ie the software that serves to compress our videos with the AV1 standard. Thanks to it, therefore, we will be able to transmit much more compressed videos, even with not very performing connections.
There are already two videoconferencing and video calling softwares that support encoding and decoding in AV1: Google Meet and Google Duo. As far as Android is concerned, only Duo has already integrated AV1, even if Big G plans to add it in the near future to other products such as Meet, Photos, TV and Stadia.
The implementation of an AV1 encoder in Chrome (and consequently also in Edge and all other Chromium-based open source browsers) will allow many other videoconferencing apps to take advantage of this standard in a bidirectional way: both sending and receiving video streams.