Chromium, the skeletal open-source browser at the core of Chrome, Opera, Vivaldi, Brave and a few other browsers will receive support for the automatic playback of MP3 files.
"We have approval from legal to go ahead and move mp3 into non-proprietary codecs list," said a project manager tasked with managing Chromium's multimedia components.
Until now, Chromium — and indirectly Chrome — has supported various audio formats such as OGG, FLAC, Opus, WAV, PCM, and others.
The decision to add MP3 support to Chromium comes after the company behind the audio codec terminated its MP3 commercial licensing program, leaving the MP3 standard in the public domain.
Until now, browsers such as Chrome and Firefox have supported MP3 only after Google and Firefox have paid licensing fees to use the technology.
Adding MP3 in Chromium will spread MP3 support to the browsers that don't have the financial backing of Google, Mozilla, Microsoft, or others, and will help these smaller browser vendors support today's most widespread audio format by default, at no cost whatsoever.
Since MP3 became patent free at the end of April, many software vendors have shown interest in supporting the format. And why not? It's now free!
Despite going patent-free, MP3 usage is expected to decline, according to Fraunhofer IIS, MP3's developer, especially in the lucrative enterprise sector where other technologies have taken MP3's place.
"Although there are more efficient audio codecs with advanced features available today, mp3 is still very popular amongst consumers," said Fraunhofer IIS in a statement in April. "However, most state-of-the-art media services such as streaming or TV and radio broadcasting use modern ISO-MPEG codecs such as the AAC family or in the future MPEG-H."