With loadshedding set to be a permanent feature for the next 18 months at least, streaming your daily dose of Netflix is possibly going to happen on a mobile data connection.

Which is why this slice of news from Netflix is rather appealing.

Earlier this week Netflix announced that it had started using the AV1 codec for streaming on its Android mobile app.

Developed by the Alliance for Open Media (AOMedia), the AV1 codec provides a 20 percent improvement in compression efficiency on the VP9 codec it was using for the Android app.

“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,” wrote Netflix in a blog post.

We’ve selected the Save Data option in our Android app and the one glaring problem is that we have no idea which titles are compatible with the codec.

Netflix was rather coy regarding how AV1 is implemented. For example, YouTube has support for the codec and has a playlist specifically for videos that support the codec.

However, the video sharing platform states that using AV1 where it is available, especially when streaming in HD “requires a powerful computer”. YouTube also seems to push folks to using AV1 for Standard Definition (SD) streaming and allowing VP9 to handle anything higher.

Netflix not stating how it’s implemented AV1 then does concern us slightly especially if folks find their processors are being tasked more leading to increased battery usage. While we trust Netflix’s engineers, it would have been nice to have a deeper dive into its AV1 implementation.

Before you make the switch to AV1 on Netflix then, we recommend checking out this YouTube playlist and monitoring your battery usage and you phone’s performance to determine if AV1 is better for your use case.

With all of this having been said, AV1 is being tested and tweaked constantly and it does perform better than other codecs in many areas. For those who enjoy a bit of light technical reading you can read Facebook and the BBC’s research into AV1 here.

[Source – Netflix Tech Blog]