In the present day scenario, it is pretty evident that streaming services are the new-age televisions for a lot of people. Mainly because, a lot of the content that was only available on television in the early days, is now accessible across various streaming services. As a result, more and more people are buying subscriptions for services like Amazon Prime and Netflix, to stream content on their devices, be it a computer, a tablet, or even a smartphone. But, very recently, some smartphone users have started experiencing that they cannot stream the content in high-definition. Which later come into an acknowledgment that to be able to stream high-definition content on your smartphone, it must have, what is known as, the Widevine certification.
To help you better understand what the certification is and how does its presence affects your streaming quality, here’s everything that you need to know about the Widevine certification.
What is Widevine and how does it work?
Widevine is one of the most widely used Digital Rights Management (DRM) solutions out there. It supports multiple formats and multiple platforms and is available across most of the smartphones (Android and iOS) across the globe. In addition to smartphones, Widevine also supports desktops, Blu-Ray players, gaming consoles, and set-top boxes. It was developed by Widevine Technologies in the 90s and later purchased by Google in the year 2010.
A lot of the content available across various sources on the Internet is protected with DRM and other encryption standards to prevent piracy and its free distribution on the internet. Here, the DRM solution is most commonly, Google’s Widevine, and the other encrypted solutions include different encryptions and licensing key exchanges that manage and send the video content to users in a secure manner.
Widevine is free to use by the content providers and does not require any fee for license generation and device registration. Instead, all that smartphone manufacturers need to do is clear a certification process, which includes different legal agreements, software implementation, and a few other measures. Since this process can take a lot of time, a lot of the chipsets for Android smartphones come equipped with necessary technologies that make the process streamlined. Additionally, if the certification is not done before the release of a device, the same can be implemented at a later time using software updates.
What are the different Widevine certifications?
In general, a lot of the Android smartphones come with some, or the other, kind of Widevine certification level, but they all might not necessarily possess the same certifications. There are two types of Widevine certifications in Android, L1 and L3.
With Widevine L3 certification, an Android smartphone is only capable of streaming content in standard definition (SD), ie. 480p and below.
On the other hand, with Widevine L1 certification, the range of quality of content increases from high definition (HD), ie 720p up to 4K. Which is why, for an Android smartphone to be able to able to stream content, at least in high-definition (720p), it must have a Widevine L1 certification, as a Widevine L3 certification would only allow for content streaming in standard definition.
How to check your device for Widevine support?
As you go through the article, one of the rhetorical questions that might cross your head is whether your smartphone supports Widevine and if it does, is there a way to find out if it’s L1 or L3. Well, one of the obvious ways to tell is by trying to stream content on the device across different platforms like Amazon Prime and Netflix in high-definition. In which case, if you are able to stream content in high-definition, it goes to indicate that your device has Widevine L3 certification. However, if that’s something that you don’t want to do, there is another way, which works on Android smartphones and requires you to download an app, called ‘DRM Info’. The app can be downloaded for free from the Play Store and gives information on various DRM modules, including CENC ClearKey, Adobe Primetime, Google Widevine Modular DRM, Marlin, Microsoft Playready, and Verimatrix.
It’s 2019, and we still come across smartphones that lack the Widevine certification. In our opinion, this could be either because the smartphone manufacturers do not want to add the ability to stream high-definition content on their smartphones, which seems highly unlikely, as the licensing is free, or it could be because there isn’t enough time with the manufacturers to go through the licensing and registration process, as the deadline for device release could be closing down.