JPEG has been the go-to image format on the Internet for nearly three decades. However, in recent years, new image formats have emerged, offering superior compression and features that could potentially replace JPEG. Two formats, in particular, are gaining attention – AVIF and JPEG XL. In this article, we will explore these formats and compare them to another contender, HEIC. We will dive into their technical specifications, compression capabilities, performance, compatibility, and potential use cases. By the end, you will have a better understanding of which format could potentially replace JPEG.
- AVIF, HEIC, and JPEG XL are new image formats that aim to replace JPEG as the standard for web delivery.
- HEIC is widely supported on Apple platforms but faces backward compatibility issues and complicated licensing.
- AVIF, developed by the Alliance for Open Media, offers better performance than HEIC and is expected to become the dominant format for web delivery.
- JPEG XL, a raster graphics file format developed by JPEG, Google, and Cloudinary, aims to surpass JPEG and PNG and offers lossy and lossless compression.
- The choice between these formats depends on personal preferences and specific use cases.
- Competition among these formats will drive further progress and benefit users in terms of improved image compression and quality.
JPEG has long been the de facto image format for the web, but in recent years, its limitations have become apparent. With the emergence of high-resolution images and the need for efficient compression, new image formats have entered the scene. Two notable formats, AVIF and JPEG XL, are vying to replace JPEG as the standard for web delivery. However, another format, HEIC, has also gained attention, particularly in the Apple ecosystem. In this article, we will explore these three formats and compare their technical specifications, compression capabilities, performance, compatibility, and potential use cases to determine which format is likely to replace JPEG in the future.
Introducing AVIF, HEIC, and JPEG XL
AVIF (AV1 Image File Format): AVIF is a free image format developed by the Alliance for Open Media. It is based on the AV1 video codec, which provides better compression efficiency than older codecs like H.264 and VP9. AVIF supports both lossy and lossless compression and aims to deliver high-quality images at smaller file sizes. It has gained popularity among web designers and developers due to its impressive compression capabilities and compatibility with modern web browsers.
HEIC (High Efficiency Image File Format): HEIC is an image format developed by the MPEG group and adopted by Apple for its mobile platforms since 2017. HEIC offers superior compression for full-color photos compared to JPEG. However, it has limited popularity outside the Apple ecosystem due to backward compatibility issues and complicated licensing requirements.
JPEG XL: JPEG XL is an open standard raster graphics file format developed by the Joint Photographic Experts Group (JPEG), Google, and Cloudinary. It aims to surpass existing bitmap formats like JPEG and PNG. JPEG XL offers both lossy and lossless compression and introduces features like progressive decoding and animated images. The format combines the best elements from Google’s PIK codec and Cloudinary’s FUIF codec, making it a promising contender to replace JPEG.
Technical Specifications and Compression
The technical specifications of AVIF, HEIC, and JPEG XL play a crucial role in determining their performance and compression capabilities.
AVIF: AVIF adopts the AV1 video codec for image compression. It utilizes the AV1 bitstream format, which allows for significant compression gains compared to older codecs. AVIF achieves superior compression by employing various techniques, including intraframe coding, block-tree partitioning, and color space transformation. These techniques ensure that AVIF images are highly compressed and maintain image quality.
HEIC: HEIC uses the HEVC (High-Efficiency Video Coding) standard for image compression. It adopts the same techniques used in HEVC, such as block-based coding, intraframe coding, and transform coding. HEIC achieves excellent compression results for high-quality photos, especially for images with complex and rich color information.
JPEG XL: JPEG XL combines features from Google’s PIK and Cloudinary’s FUIF, resulting in a highly efficient image compression format. It introduces advanced techniques like the Butteraugli perceptual metric, which ensures that compression artifacts are virtually invisible to the human eye. JPEG XL also supports lossless compression, making it an ideal format for archiving and preserving high-quality images.
Comparing the compression ratios of these formats is subjective and depends on various settings and image quality. However, both AVIF and HEIC offer noticeable file size reduction compared to JPEG, with AVIF generally ahead in quality settings. JPEG XL, on the other hand, aims to provide a balance between file size and image quality, offering high compression without significant loss in visual fidelity.
When it comes to performance, speed is an essential aspect to consider for image codecs.
AVIF: AVIF delivers impressive performance in terms of encoding and decoding speed. Its efficient compression techniques, such as variable block sizes and context-adaptive binary arithmetic coding, enable fast processing of AVIF images. However, encoding AVIF images may require more computational resources, especially for large images, due to the additional complexity brought by the AV1 video coding principles.
HEIC: HEIC also offers good performance in terms of encoding and decoding speed. It leverages the algorithms from HEVC, which are designed to handle video compression efficiently. HEIC encoding is relatively fast, but decoding performance can be affected by the complexity of the image.
JPEG XL: JPEG XL stands out in terms of performance, as it outperforms both AVIF and HEIC in encoding and decoding speed. The format’s efficient coding techniques allow for fast processing of JPEG XL images without compromising on image quality. This makes JPEG XL a favorable choice for real-time applications where speed is crucial.
The compatibility of an image format determines its usability across different platforms and devices.
AVIF: AVIF is gaining support in modern web browsers, such as Chrome, Firefox, and Opera. However, full support for AVIF is still in progress. Currently, AVIF images can be viewed through specialized browser extensions or experimental builds of popular web browsers. It is expected that AVIF will become the dominant format for web delivery in the future.
HEIC: HEIC is primarily supported on Apple’s operating systems, including iOS and macOS. It is also supported on Windows 10, Android 9, and Ubuntu 20.04. However, due to its limited compatibility outside the Apple ecosystem, the adoption of HEIC on the web is relatively low.
JPEG XL: JPEG XL is currently in the final stages of standardization and has gained significant support from industry players. While wide browser support is still being developed, there are already plugins available for browsers like Chrome and Firefox. The compatibility of JPEG XL is expected to increase, making it a viable option for web delivery.
Potential Use Cases
The choice between AVIF, HEIC, and JPEG XL depends on specific use cases and requirements. Here are some potential use cases for each format:
- Web designers and developers who prioritize file size reduction while maintaining image quality.
- Websites and platforms looking to offer high-quality images with faster loading times.
- Applications that require efficient and compressed image delivery, such as social media platforms and image-focused websites.
- Apple users and platforms looking for compatibility and support within their ecosystem.
- Applications and platforms that deal with high-resolution images with complex color information, such as photography and design-related websites.
- Professional photographers looking for a format that can repackage old JPEG images without quality loss.
- Applications that require both lossy and lossless compression options for image manipulation and archiving purposes.
- Platforms and devices that prioritize speed and performance without compromising on image quality.
As we look for alternatives to replace the aging JPEG image format, AVIF, HEIC, and JPEG XL have emerged as strong contenders. AVIF, developed by the Alliance for Open Media, offers excellent compression and is expected to become the dominant format for web delivery. HEIC, primarily supported in the Apple ecosystem, provides superior compression for full-color photos. JPEG XL, being developed by JPEG, Google, and Cloudinary, offers a balance between compression and visual fidelity along with advanced features.
It is essential to consider the specific use case and compatibility requirements before choosing between these formats. AVIF is favored in the web design community, while HEIC is preferred by Apple users. JPEG XL appeals to photographers and applications that require speed and performance. Ultimately, the competition among these formats will drive further progress, benefiting end-users with improved image compression and quality.
As the web continues to evolve, it is crucial to stay informed about new image formats and their potential to replace JPEG, ensuring that we keep up with the ever-increasing demand for higher image quality and performance.