If you watch Netflix on Android devices, you may have noticed that streaming has become much better recently.
The company has started using a "new" video encoder for Android devices that provides "20% improved compression performance" through the VP9 encoder previously used by the company to display shows and movies on Android devices.
The new encoder used by Netflix is called AV1, and it is a free video encoder.
The AV1 is backed by some of the biggest tech companies, including Microsoft, Google, Apple, Facebook, Netflix, Mozilla and Nvidia. So there is a very good chance that it will become the next generic codec.
What has happened in recent years:
Mozilla and Google offer full support for AV1 in Firefox and Chrome respectively, we had the launch of AV1 support on YouTube in 2018, but also a beta application released by Microsoft called AV1 Video Extension at the end of 2018 to add AV1 video support to Windows 10. The AV1 codec promises better compression without affecting video quality.
Android was chosen as the first mobile platform to adopt the AV1 encoder, and there are reasons for that. Mobile networks are not always reliable, and bandwidth is often not as fast on mobile.
Netflix customers can enable "Save Data" feature on Netflix to make use of the new AV1 streaming. This is done from the menu Menu - Application Settings - Using Cellular Data. There is an option "Save Data" or "Save Data".
The company states that there are currently "selected movies" that use AV1, but does not say which are and which are not. We certainly expect availability to increase over time.
Netflix is a founding member Alliance for Open Media, which oversees the development of AV1. The company has decided to use the new encoder for Android exclusively for now, but plans to extend its use to "more devices".