RealNetworks will implement MPEG-4 audio and visual support to its media players, and will join the Third Generation Partnership Program (3GPP), a standards body for mobile devices, the company announced yesterday.

MPEG-4 support is also expected to debut in a future version of QuickTime, particularly since Apple sits on the body tasked with overseeing MPEG-4 development – the Internet Streaming Media Alliance (ISMA). ISMA released a specification for MPEG-4 in October. QuickTime was chosen by the International Organization for Standards (ISO) as the file format for MPEG-4.

Apple is also using its unique position, as a main driving force behind MPEG-4 development, to develop its own codecs to play back MPEG-4 content on Macs and Windows PCs.

Real support However, Real's support for MPEG-4, a relative of the widely popular MP3 (MPEG-1, Layer-3) format, will come via plug-ins supplied by MPEG-4 software company Envivio.com. These are available immediately using Real's automatic software update feature.

MPEG-4 is a multimedia standard designed for the quality and compression of audio and video files for both computers and mobile devices, including phones. The standard was created by the Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG), which also created the MPEG-1 and MPEG-2 standards for video CD and digital television. MP3 is a component of the MPEG-1 standard.

Real has also gained full voting membership in the 3GPP and joined SA4, a standards group concerned with delivering multimedia over packet-switched networks like the Internet. Through its membership in the two groups, Real will work to develop standards to use in the delivery of multimedia content to mobile devices, the company said.