Google’s Big Plans to Help You Stream Faster & Sharper Videos

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YouTube has evolved by huge amounts since it started. Google saw a huge potential in it and then ended up making the right decision of buying it. Today, there are millions of people who have their own channel on YouTube. It’s an encyclopaedia of videos. If you can’t find it on YouTube, you won’t find it anywhere else (unless and until it has been taken down). YouTube, therefore, has become a part of our lives and we seem to have allowed this gradually over years.

It has never been stagnant. Google makes sure that you are able to stream the highest quality videos to along with the ease of navigation and searching to improve your overall experience of streaming videos. However, something that still needs to change is what we see when we open YouTube. After clicking or tapping it, we have to wait for a while after which we are taken to a page that comprises of blurry details and blocky patterns. This is because videos take time to move across networks.

Google, however, isn’t walking over this issue. The tech giant is doing everything they can to make the entire video streaming experience a lot better. They have a lot of things going on regarding YouTube and we take you an inch closer to what’s exactly cooking.

A New Technology, a New Hope
Google currently makes use of a technology called VP9 so as to compress videos and move them easily across networks. Google, also mentioned it they are planning to launch a successor VP10 of this technology in a few years so as to boost image quality, sharpness, colour saturation and speed of travel. Though Google’s VP technology is free-to-use and has now proved to be an established standard when it comes to data compression. However, they will always have one competitor in front of them even here and that is H.264 which is soon going to become HEVC/H.265
As compared to the H.264, Google’s VP9 uses half the network capacity so as to send a video and Google expects to do the same with their upcoming VP10 technology as well. However, what’s important is that HEVC still has a lot of companies backing it up than Google’s VP9 or upcoming VP10. HEVC offers broad support for smartphone processors, cameras etc. Apart from that, network giant Cisco and Firefox developer Mozilla have chose not to rely on Google and instead launch their own HEVC alternative.

The following video shows how VP9, VP8, H.265 and x264 fare against each other:

Handling the Ever Increasing Data Demand
Compression, undoubtedly, is the key for both traditional TVs and this new era of online videos. Apart from that, manufacturers are battling against each other to entice customers by offering them “4K” resolution which has increased the work load for companies like Google even more. 4K resolution has approximately 4-times more pixels than current standards and this has forced to double the network capacity.

Other new features have cropped up to with increasing appetite of data out if which one is wider colour gamut that offers more realistic scenery and the other is HDR or High Dynamic Range prevent the colours from getting washed out. Better compression technology will obviously deliver more video frames per second too which will prove to be helpful for heavy videos.

Google effectively has a lot more power when it comes to video technology as it controls YouTube, Chrome and Android which means the company can introduce and improvise this existing technology without waiting for the consent of other players in the industry. However, what’s important is that moving to VP10 will surge the processing demand even further but that’s not a problem since hardware support is finally coming in with Samsung’s Exynos, MediaTek, Nvidia and Broadcom processors..

Handling Patent Issues Effectively
There have always been certain disputes regarding H.264 of how much one should pay for the use of this technology. These problems generally stem from businesses that have clashing technology priorities like Apple, Sony, Samsung, Philips and Dolby. This has ultimately raised profit margin for Google’s VP technology to become a possible alternative. Though today’s video world including Blu-ray discs and smartphones rely on H.264, but new patent royalty requests of HEVC Advance have compelled many companies to pay more for HEVC Advance.

The various announcements made by HEVC Advance have compelled companies to look for various other options. HEVC Advance, on the other hand, believes that video compressing technologies worldwide need to be shaken-up. According to them, a lot of device manufacturers these days have a notion that burdening the device manufacturers solely for things related to video technology isn’t viable methodology, anymore.

However, the fees incurred makes things even worse for those relying on the HEVC technology. A company which sells 10 million HEVC-equipped devices would have to pay $8 million to the HEVC Advance. Enabling companies to avoid this burden of patent royalty burden is exactly why Google bought the VPx technology through their $123 million acquisition in 2010 of On2 Technologies. According to Google, a high-quality free alternative is required today so that new technology can be implemented without worrying about the high license fees.
Others in the Race

Apart from Google and HEVC Advance, some new players have also started to show up in this realm like Cisco’s Thor and Mozilla’s Daala which are being developed with the same viewpoint of helping manufacturers avoid patent royalty problems. However, Cisco and Mozilla aren’t the only ones who are trying their hands on in video compression technology so as to create NetVC which will be a royalty free video streaming standard for all device manufacturers.

Though NetVC will probably gain wide acceptance because of it being developed with adherence to multi-party standards instead of just being controlled by one single company, however, it is still a distant option. Till then Google’s VP technology has t battle it out against HEVC Advance to ascertain their reign over this highly uncertain kingdom of video compressing.

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