How to fix unsupported audio-video file error on Android

Before we get into the details, it’s worth explaining why and how this problem occurs. It’s all about the codecs and containers.

What is a codec?

Codec is actually the abbreviation of coder-decoder. The name actually says it all: it’s a method for encoding and decoding data, specifically compressed data. Codecs take it (in this case video data) and either compress it so it can be sent or stored, or decompress it so it can be viewed.

Codecs are different from containers and file formats, however. AVI, for example, is often mistaken for one, when it’s simply the video file type.

What is a container?

Usually, a container is also referred to as a file format. It takes care of packaging, transport and presentation (while the codec prepares the file for these actions). Containers take care of synchronizing the audio and video. A container is part of the file that determines the file type. In simple terms – if you have an androidpit.mp4 file, MP4 is the container.

Why won’t my video play?

In most cases, the reason why you’re getting an error message when you try to play a video file on your Android device is because the codec of your media file is not supported by your media player. Another possible reason is that audio codec is unsupported. You might think that your media player arbitrarily decides to play and not play the same file type, but a container can contain multiple codecs that your phone might not support.

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