Google Chrome for computers is about to receive an important update that will significantly improve the quality of video calls on slow Internet connections. In the latest beta version of Chrome 90, the developers added support for the AV1 codec for the WebRTC standard, which is used for streaming audio and video in the browser. It not only provides improved video quality, but also dramatically improves screen sharing in video conferencing applications.
AV1 is a free and open source video codec that is largely seen as a replacement for H.264 / AVC used by most video streaming services. It offers a better quality-to-compression ratio than VP9, as well as H.264 and H.265. AV1 encoded content usually retains higher quality with a smaller file size. Meanwhile, WebRTC provides real-time communication between browsers. This standard is used by many video conferencing platforms including Google Meet, Facebook Messenger, Discord, and so on.
AV1 support was already added to Chrome two years ago, so Google Meet and Google Duo users can now encode the stream to AV1 and then stream it to the destination. Google says that thanks to the use of this decoder, Chrome can make video calls even at internet speeds of up to 30 Kbps.
Support for the AV1 decoder for WebRTC is being rolled out in the beta version of Chrome 90 and should appear in the next update to the stable version of the browser. Google has already implemented AV1 support in the Google Duo Android app and plans to add it to a number of its other products.