According to an article by Stephen Shankland of CNET, Apple is officially jumping on the compression technology bandwagon in an effort to make online videos easier on your data plan. Though other companies like Amazon, Google, and Microsoft have been working as part of the Alliance for Open Media to come up with ways to shrink online video sizes for quite awhile now, Apple has only very recently added its considerable weight to the project — the company joined the alliance as a founding member on Wednesday.

The compression technology being devised by the alliance is called AV1, and it reportedly compresses video before it's stored on your device or sent over the network. The goal is to help keep you from going over your monthly data limit (and from receiving those angry "Why aren't you using Wi-Fi?!" texts from your mom). Video compression also assists with keeping you from constantly running out of storage space on your device. Sounds pretty great, right? However, Shankland notes that the tech still isn't a perfect solution:

AV1 is still a work in progress, though the first version of the technology should be finalized in coming weeks. Mozilla, which supports an early version, said in November that AV1 cuts file sizes 25 percent to 35 percent compared to HEVC and VP9. Better compression can come with a problem, though: longer times to compress video and a greater burden on scarce computing resources like memory and battery life.

Shankland also pointed out that since last year, Apple has been using HEVC (High Efficiency Video Coding) to combat excessive data and storage use. Unfortunately, though, that hasn't been without its problems, especially when it comes to patenting the technology:

... HEVC has been mired in patent problems as companies that contributed technology wrangle for lucrative royalty fees. Anyone hoping to use HEVC in products like operating systems, video software, cameras, processors, phones, Blu-ray players, or TV networks must reckon with three separate HEVC patent licensing groups.

The Alliance for Open Media claims that AV1 will adhere to a royalty-free standard adoption of the tech much easier and cheaper for companies who wish to use it, but some feel that companies may still attempt to enforce patents around it.


What are your thoughts regarding video compression technology? Share them with us in the comments.