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Google Announces New Image Format To Replace JPEG

As far as web image formats are concerned, it is probably hard to think of anything other than the well-known JPEG-PNG-GIF combination found in almost all websites today. And leave it to Google to introduce yet another contender to the world of web media: the search giant has just announced a new WebP image specially aimed at making JPEG irrelevant.

Just how many web-capable image formats does the world need? To most people, the well-known combination of JPEG, PNG and GIF will suffice for most needs and situations, but it seems that Google is far from satisfied with the current status quo.

However, instead of proposing changes to the way today’s image formats compress data, the search giant has seemingly chosen to create a whole new format altogether. Known as WebP, Google has claimed that their new VP8-based format may just have what it takes to replace JPEG as the de-facto lossy format for images which house millions of colour data, such as photographs.

In a post on Google’s Chromium blog, Google Product Manager Richard Rabbat claimed that work was started on a new image format to provide a faster web experience for the user.

“Most of the common image formats on the web today were established over a decade ago and are based on technology from around that time,” he wrote. “Some engineers at Google decided to figure out if there was a way to further compress lossy images like JPEG to make them load faster, while still preserving quality and resolution.”

Rabbat also pointed readers of the blog post to a gallery site where side-by-side comparisons of images in both the JPEG and WebP formats can be conducted. In addition, he has announced that tools are in place to help foster the widespread adoption of WebP.

“We are also releasing a conversion tool that you can use to convert images to the WebP format. We’re looking forward to working with the browser and web developer community on the WebP spec and on adding native support for WebP,” he said.

The conversion tool can be downloaded from Google Code at http://code.google.com/speed/webp/. However, the current version is only available in a command-line interface, and as such is probably not suitable for users who are not accustomed to using text-based commands.

In addition, he announced that Google also plans to implement temporary workarounds in order to allow users to view images based off the WebP spec.

“While WebP images can’t be viewed until browsers support the format, we are developing a patch for WebKit to provide native support for WebP in an upcoming release of Google Chrome,” he wrote.

Source: Chromium Blog

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