What is AV1?
AV1 is a codec developed by the Alliance for Open Media, a conglomerate of a ton of different companies in the technology space. Its main benefits are that it's royalty-free (so companies can implement it in their software for free), and it has some immense savings over the likes of VP9 and H264. Facebook Engineering conducted tests in 2018, concluding that the AV1 reference encoder achieved 34%, 46.2%, and 50.3% higher data compression than libvpx-vp9, x264 High profile, and x264 Main profile, respectively. This means that for those on slower connections, you may be able to enjoy a quality higher than what you're used to, and for those on faster connections, you'll be able to get an even higher bitrate on the same connection speed.
The first smartphone chipset to support AV1 decode was the MediaTek Dimensity 1000, which supported up to 4K 60 FPS. The Nvidia Geforce 3000 series supported decoding, the Nvidia Geforce 4000 series supports both encoding and decoding, and Samsung's Exynos 2100/2200 both support AV1 decoding as well. Later, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 brought support for AV1 decoding, and it's rumored that the Tensor G3 may support AV1 encoding as well. Support is slowly growing in the industry, and the chipset in the Chromecast HD also supports AV1 decode, too. We reached out to Google for comment and were told that the Chromecast with Google TV (HD) supports AV1.
Not only that, but YouTube on desktop also supports AV1, and you can enable it in your account settings so long as you're using a compatible browser. In fact, the company has designed its own silicon for the encoding of AV1 video that will be used in data centers for YouTube. The chip, code-named "Argos", is a second-gen Video (trans) Coding Unit (VCU) that converts videos uploaded to the platform to various compression formats and optimizes them for different screen sizes. Google claims that its new Argos VCU can handle videos 20-33 times more efficiently than conventional servers.
AV1 will be the next generation encoding for streaming on Twitch, YouTube, Tiktok and other platforms in the years to come!