Android 2.3.3 Gingerbread Update Includes WebM Support [What is WebM?]

February 23, 2011

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As you may already be well aware, the Android 2.3.3 update for Nexus S and Nexus One has indeed gone out today for the greater good of humanity. What you might NOT know is that this update includes WebM support. What is WebM? It's a relatively new media file format designed specifically for the internet. What a WebM file consists of is VP8 video codec and Vorbis audio codec compressed audio streams. Well wait, what does that mean? Let's break it down.

First, what is VP8 video codec? It's a technology that compresses videos in a highly efficient manner - what this means is that it's a lot easier to load the same video you'd have otherwise been waiting longer to load than you are with this new format. This particular format, VP8, is developed by On2 Technologies, a group acquired by Google back in February 2010. Google wants to push this video format because it's both efficient and they own the company that developed it.

Second, what is Vorbis audio codec? Vorbis is essentially to audio what VP8 is to video, compressing it for easier and lighter loading. Vorbis is an open-source audio compression tech made by the Xiph Foundation which is, in fact, NOT owned by Google. The WebM project includes Vorbis because it was found by them to be the best choice of all of the open-source options.

Because the internet's success is built on open and freely implementable technologies like HTML, HTTP, and TCP/IP, the WebM project wants to offer this freedom in an open and free video format that is "on par with the leading commercial choices." This format, they say, is a broadly-backed community effort aimed directly at developing this open web media format.

So, not that you needed motivation to download an update to Gingerbread, but you're going to have support for WebM media format. So that's pretty cool.

[via Android Developers]

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  • Anonymous

    You might want to mention that this “new” codec is going to start one of the biggest patent battles of all time. MPEG-LA, which controls very many patents related to video codecs is making a concerted effort to shut WebM down. MPEG-LA is backed by some real big boys like Apple and MS and just about anyone else in the video industry such as Panasonic etc etc.

    So far MPEG-LA are claiming they have identified numerous major patent violations in the codec.

    I would like to see WebM win this battle, but it will be a very very tough battle to win. It comes down to this: Apple is trying to derail Google because it wants the H.264 codec they back to be the dominant codec.

    Google this battle to find out more, there are literally thousands of articles you can read about this; here is just one of them:

    • Jay

      “So far MPEG-LA are claiming they have identified numerous major patent violations in the codec.’

      Have they or anyone else shown any proven examples of this? On2 also owns many video compression patents. MPEG-LA better hope they don’t violate any of On2’s patents.

      • snaaaap

      • Anonymous

        I don’t really have time to bring you up to speed and there are many in-depth articles about it; but basically all the video patent holders world-wide use MPEG-LA as a depository. MPEG-LA sent out a call to all of them to review On2’s codec. Over 500 companies responded. Hundreds of violations are claimed. MPEG-LA put them all into one legal claim and are the lead in trying to take down WebM by the claim that On2 is the violator.

      • Ryo

        And the FSF has call for a boycott of all companies that follow this ridiculous patent-hunt from the MPEG-LA.

      • Jay

        “Over 500 companies responded. Hundreds of violations are claimed.”

        Where do you get your info from? As far as I know MPEG-LA hasn’t made any public information available of who has responded and with what violations. It’s also funny to read the MPEG-LA also plans to release a royalty free codec for the web. Why would they do this if VP8 wasn’t a threat to them?

      • …and we are 7 months later and there is still no sign of any attack from MPEG-LA on WebM.

        Maybe they know they could be crushed with the huge stash of patents Google has collected in the meantime.

  • Ryo

    As far as I know WebM works in Gingerbread 2.3.2 also. I think it’s not new with this update.
    I like WebM and I hope for a big push.
    Maybe now manufacturers like Motorola will state Ogg Vorbis audio compatibility in their data sheets, too. They can play, but Motorola doesn’t tell you since Droid2. Why?

  • Bonita

    Is there a android 2.3 update for the Huawei u8300??

  • Bonita

    Is there a android 2.3 update for the Huawei u8300??