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Google Adds Widevine DRM to Chrome for Android

Posted by: , 20:41 AEST, Fri August 23, 2013

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Chrome for Android to get HTML5 based DRM, paving the way for streaming video playback without the need for Flash or Silverlught, or a dedicated app
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Image/Photo Credit: Google

Google engineers have announced that the Chrome browser app for Android will be getting the Widevine DRM. This paves the way for DRM encrypted HTML5 based videos to be playable via the browser, allowing video streaming services like Netflix to operate without the need for a specialized app.

The issue of DRM within HTML5 has been a contentious one at the best of times, with clear battle lines drawn between those that detest the very idea of DRM, and those that need it for content delivery. Initially caught in the middle, but eventually going over to the pro DRM side are companies like Google and Microsoft, keen to end the decade old reliance on proprietary solutions, such as Flash and even Microsoft's own Silverlight. 

The W3C, the consortium responsible for managing web standards, also eventually chose DRM out of the fear that the open web would be abandoned in favor of apps, which they consider to be walled gardens. "We don't want the Web to be a bunch of cordoned-off apps," said W3C Chief Executive Jeff Jaffe when trying to explain the group's backing of including Encrypted Media Extensions (EME) as part of the HTML5 specifications.

EME is a standardized framework that allows for the inclusion of third party Content Decryption Modules (CDMs), such as Widevine.

For most end users, the inclusion of EME support and the use of the Widevine CDM will mean one thing: video streaming services will work directly on the Android devices directly via the Chrome browser, instead of via specially made apps.

In a related announcement, Google engineers also announced the decision to support the Media Source Extension (MSE) interface. The MSE interface will allow JavaScript based control of adaptive streaming, which allow the streaming quality to change to adapt to changing network conditions.


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