The betas of iOS 16 and tvOS 16 appear to include references to the AV1 video codec that could pave the way for massive improvements in video streaming on Apple’s platforms and even 8K quality.
The references were brought to light this week by FlatPanelsHD but were actually first spotted by Neowin in June. In Apple’s very own Core Media framework library (opens in new tab) there is a reference to the AV1 video codec.
As today’s report notes, AV1 is a video format used by streaming giants as a royalty-free alternative to HEVC used for streaming 4K and UHD Blu-Rays. However, thanks to the way it can efficiently stream video without affecting quality, it is also a great tool for the prospects of data-hungry 8K streaming.
The ramifications of this are multiple. This likely indicates that Apple is planning to activate AV1 codec support in its future software for devices like the iPhone 13, current Macs, iPads, and more. It will also possibly be made available as a software update for Apple’s current range of TVs including the Apple TV 4K.
Even if you don’t have any of the tools to take advantage of 8K streaming, this could save users heaps of data and bandwidth when streaming current content thanks to AV1’s aforementioned efficiency savings.
It could also pave the way for 8K streaming in a device like a future Apple TV. The current TV does have HDMI 2.1 but isn’t using all of its bandwidth.
Apple is reportedly readying a new Apple TV powered by A14 for later this year, so it is indeed possible that this new TV could bring 8K to the party. At the very least AV1 support would improve current streaming across a bunch of services regardless of the resolution upgrade. It’s likely Apple’s current Apple TV wouldn’t have the juice to do software-based decoding of AV1, which is needed because it doesn’t support hardware decoding.