Google makes push to standardize new web picture format

googleAs the top online search engine in the world, Google, hopes to make the web more efficient, the company has announced a new ambitious strategy that could see most of the web switching over to a new image format.

The new open-source format, called “WebP” (pronounced “weepy”), would be an alternative to the JPEG format that is already internationally accepted because of the good quality it offers with relatively small file size.

The JPEG format is one of the most efficient formats due to the optimal balance of quality versus size, and Google even encourages using that specific format as the company largely only indexes JPEG pictures in its popular Google News service.

 Google says in its testing of a sample of 1-million online picture files (largely JPEG, PNG, and GIF formats – the exact composition was not disclosed), the company was able to reduce file size on average by just under 40-percent with very marginal degradation in picture quality.

The company says about 65-percent of Internet content is pictures.

If the majority of web developers switch to the new WebP picture file format, aggregately, there could be many significant positive implications, such as significant cost savings as picture downloading and uploading would drastically decrease the amount of network load given the smaller file sizes. Additionally, web developers and enterprises (think Facebook) could reduce storage costs as many photos on a hard drive, including on cloud-based storage systems, aggregately sum up to material size amounts.

The web experience of Internet users in emerging markets would also increase as pages would load faster, and networks would also reduce server strain and therefore costs.

Google says as part of its plan to help standardize the format, its next update to its Chrome Internet browser in the coming weeks would natively begin supporting the format.

Google acknowledges it could take a very long time for WebP to become widely adopted and standardized, but the company says it is in it for the long haul despite the challenge.

Google WebP Sample

Google JPEG Sample

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Murad is an engineering graduate from Centennial college in Toronto, Canada. Write to [email protected]
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  • Thomas Zell

    Well, too bad you can’t save either of these pictures and inspect them with a proper program. Can’t really comment on them or look at them closely.

  • Peter James Herz

    Propaganda.. Google just wants to own its image and video codecs for unpredictable reasons (on the outside). PNG is absolutely open and fine for the task Google claims to be fixing with JPG as a fallback.

    • Derick Eisenhardt

      JPG is lossy, PNG is lossless….While I agree PNG is superior, JPEG files tend to be smaller…and so comparing WebP to PNG is pointless

  • Canadaka

    I think this is pointless unless you get the company with the largest market share in browsers and operating systems onboard, Microsoft. I believe Microsoft tried pushing its own JPEG alternative awhile ago, didn’t really go anywhere. I also don’t see this going anywhere, unless these tech giants team together.

    • DannyBox

      but Google Chrome is really picking up, in fact it probably has more users than Safari….so that is pretty big in its self…

      if it makes sense, which right now it seems to, everyone will use it…why would webmasters not want a lower server load hence costs? of course they would.

      • Canadaka

        Chrome has under 8% market share, i wouldn’t call that pretty big.

        Of course there are benefits, but the same benefits existed with other jpeg replacements pushed in the past by other companies. Unless all the large players are pushing the same format… i don’t see it going anywhere.

  • T-bone

    Errr…those are both .jpg files, so what exactly are we supposed to be comparing in that helpful side-by-side?

    • Abidoba3

      seems to be working fine for me

  • Guest

    image properties show the WebP version as 2.23kb larger than the JPEG, pointless exercise is pointless?

    • Elim

      Spotted this as well.

      • Hercules K

        Hi folks,

        The PNG is the version Google has published in its testing because the WebP format is not currently supported by mainstream browsers. The idea is to observe the texture differences compared to the JPEG. Thanks folks!

        • Joe

          sounds like an incredibly dumb plan.Webp offers no advantages over x264 and very little over jpeg which is 20 years old.

        • T-bone

          But they’re both actually JPEGs, so both being compressed via precisely the same algorithm, regardless of what the files may have looked like before they were saved for the Web.
          If one of them was saved in a non-lossy format (like 24-bit PNG) after being saved in the new format being examined, then I suppose you could argue that it could be compared to a JPEG
          But, they’re *both* JPEGS, they’re practically the same file size, and I cannot see much/any difference between them by looking at them.
          So – what’s the point?

          • AlexiK

            The files are not the same, one is a png the other is a jpeg…

  • Sgt Franic

    Mr.Google, can You please send to me (us), for example, a plug-in for Photoshop of that “awesome” picture file format, so we could test it?!

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