Google Makes WebP in Effort to Make JPEG Extinct

The JPEG image format is a staple of the web. Even before the world wide web became popular, the JPEG format, along with GIF, was the way images were encoded for digital transmission.

Google is set to replace JPEG with something newer and better. While the JPEG has been an immensely valuable technology, it's one that was based off of decades-old tech.

Google's proposed solution is WebP, which is based off of the VP8 codec that the company open sourced earlier this year. Through the use of the modern video codec, Google adapted some of those technologies to the still image format and believe that it has made WebP more efficient with smaller file sizes.

A test, as detailed in the Chromium blog:

While the benefits of a VP8 based image format were clear in theory, we needed to test them in the real world. In order to gauge the effectiveness of our efforts, we randomly picked about 1,000,000 images from the web (mostly JPEGs and some PNGs and GIFs) and re-encoded them to WebP without perceptibly compromising visual quality. This resulted in an average 39% reduction in file size. We expect that developers will achieve in practice even better file size reduction with WebP when starting from an uncompressed image.

With images making up about 65 percent of internet traffic, Google believes that creating a new lossy format to replace JPEG could both lighten the bandwidth load and speed things up considerably.

Check out some of the sample comparison images here. There are notable differences.

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  • shihabyooo
    Replace JPEG ? not in the next 5 years. The difference in size is welcome but I don't think it would have much effect other than lower the loading time of pic-full websites.
    I don't think JPEGS (and GIFS and PNGs) are going to be replaced soon.
  • see_you_next_tuesday
    JPEGs are very old technology and from a technical perspective should be superceded by something more modern, however, that doesn't help the millions upon millions of people with digital cameras that use this format does it!

    Less space taken up but afaik storage is cheap and connection speeds are (generally) getting faster and faster so is there really a problem using JPEGs?

    A cynic might wonder if google has put some proprietry tracking algorithms into the WEBPs :D

  • Silmarunya
    On one hand, technological progress is great and this truly looks like a nice idea. But on the other hand, a lot of not so competent web designers cram their sites so full of images, videos and other audiovisual material that it becomes painful. When the impact of those images on loading times is reduced, they will be able to go even more berserk with their site...