Widevine L1 certificate restored after a year of operational issues
Over the past year or so, we’ve seen reports that pixels almost randomly lose Widevine L1 status – which is an unorthodox way of saying they’re unable to stream HD content in apps like Netflix. Lots of reasons were put forward, but the concrete solution to this problem was not clear. Fortunately for those affected, anecdotal reports suggest that Android 12L Feature Drop fixes the issue, and Google assures us that the issue has been fixed in the latest update.
For a bit of history, reports were picked up last year that Pixel owners were having issues streaming Netflix in HD quality. Deeper digging has indicated that the phones have switched to the less secure Widevine L3 certification instead of the default L1 it should have supported. Widevine is a DRM solution developed by Google and used by many Android apps to ensure safe operation, with varying degrees of hardware and software-backed security (through different L1-L3 levels supported). L1 is the top tier, and video streaming services like Netflix, various HBOs, and Disney+ depend on it.
If your device does not support L1, you may not be able to play content in HD quality in some services, or you may not be able to play content Absolutely In other cases, depending on how it is implemented.
There can be various reasons for this to happen, from the system believing that it has been modified without permission to a failure on the part of the manufacturer when it comes to the required safe items. Sometimes the problem can be fixed remotely, but sometimes the modules need to be physically sent somewhere to update them securely.
Some Pixel owners have experienced this problem over the past year, for no apparent reason. We’re told that Google was working on a fix in 2021. In the past few weeks, reports have started to suggest that the Android 12L beta might fix some things for some of those affected. With the beta version turning stable earlier this week, reports increased, and Google confirmed to us that the Android 12L March Feature Drop update includes patches for this issue, although the change didn’t mention them.
While most of the reports we’ve seen say that the issue will be fixed by an update, some still claim to have issues. Factory reset after installing the Android 12L update seems to solve things perfectly for most of them. There are a few reports claiming to still have issues, so things might not work for everyone, but other intentional actions like rooting your device, unlocking the bootloader, or installing a custom ROM can also crack Widevine.
Widevine status you see in Netflix and DRM Info if your Pixel phone is affected.
Most Pixel owners haven’t been affected by this issue, but if you’re curious to know if that’s the case, it’s easy to check. The Netflix app already has a Widevine scan built in; If you are Click on your profile picture at the top right, Click on Application Settingsthen scroll and Click Operation Specifications, will determine, in no uncertain terms, the Widevine level, as well as the maximum operating resolution on which it depends. The DRM Info app on the Play Store can also show this information under the Widevine CDM section.
Google also told us last year that the issue may have affected other manufacturer’s devices as well, and there’s no word yet on whether or not this fix will be rolled out for other phones.
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