WebP is a new image format from Google

Google recently introduced its own image format - the new format is called WebP.

WebP has a lot in common with JPEG. Like JPEG, the new format is designed to display photos on web pages, and like JPEG, WebP photos are compressed using lossy technology - the more you compress a photo, the lower its quality.

Google claims that images in WebP format will be 39.8% lighter than similar images in JPEG format without any visible loss of quality. The new format has been tested over the past few months, processing a total of about a million images from the Web - most often in JPEG format, but also a certain number of PNG and GIF. There is a possibility that the difference with JPEG in 39% of the image weight is not a limit for developers and they are sure that if they initially use uncompressed images, then the results will be even better.

WebP uses smart encoding technology to encode images. The same technology is used in the VP8 video codec to compress key frames in video. Smart coding uses the values in neighboring blocks of pixels to predict the value in the block and then only codes the difference (residual) between the actual values and the prediction. Residuals usually contain many null values, which can be compressed much more efficiently. The residual data is then converted and encoded as usual. WebP also uses variable block sizes.

At the moment, there is only the first release of the format, and in addition to the usual work on improvements, a Webkit patch is being developed to provide native support for the new format in the Chrome browser.

WebP is currently in Developer Preview and is therefore not supported by any of the popular browsers, device manufacturers or software in which we usually use the JPEG format - Photoshop or iPhoto. No doubt Google will soon build the format into its Chrome browser and Picassa Photo, but it needs the support of every key player in browsers, photo software and hardware to make any sense. So right now, WebP doesn't pose a major problem for JPEG. Although in the future everything is possible.

Images are the bulk (by weight) of useful information on a web page, and if a page is slow to load, then most often it is because of the photos. In general, the industry has been trying to solve the problem of page loading speed, and this issue has become even more acute with the boom in mobile technology, mobile Internet and growing disillusionment with the capabilities of cellular networks in matters of transferring graphic data.

But since the new image format is an open technology and is based on technological developments with which the Web is already more or less familiar, there is still a high probability of a bright future for it. The first step is support in Google Chrome, then it's a question of getting "approval" from Mozilla, Opera, Apple and Microsoft to include the format in their browsers. Considering that most of these companies were immediately ready to accept the WebM video format, then there should not be any particular problems now.

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