Did Apple Kill JPEGs?
Hidden in Apple’s plethora of announcements during Monday’s WWDC 2017 keynote, was a small yet very significant new photography feature in iOS 11: HEIF support. Apple announced that starting with iOS 11, photos will be captured and stored in HEIF format instead of JPEG. Compressed with HEIF, photos will take up half the amount of space that was required for JPEG photos, which in effect doubles the photo capacity of the iPhone and iPad devices.
First Camera That Doesn’t Use JPEG?
Why is this significant? Because for the first time in 25 years, there will be a major digital camera that doesn’t use JPEG for compressed photo capture. Of course, many cameras today store RAW photos that are uncompressed and unprocessed, but every digital camera today uses JPEG as the sole format for compressed photos. And this has been true for the past 25 years, since digital photography and the JPEG compression standard were invented. This also means that JPEG is weaved into every image workflow, from image editors to photo printing services to social networks, browsers, email clients, phone apps, TVs, and virtually every piece of hardware or software that can show pictures. Now, Apple has dropped the bomb: Starting in September, iPhones and iPads will capture and store images in HEIF format, saving 50% of storage capacity.
Here at Beamr, we are not very surprised. One year ago, we made a bold prediction: “Move over JPEG, Here Comes HEIF”. With Apple’s announcement this week, it is finally starting to happen, and we believe this will change digital photography forever.
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Remember Apple’s QuickTake Camera?
Back In 1994, Apple introduced one of the world’s first digital cameras targeted at consumers: the QuickTake 100. That camera could store only eight 640×480 photos in Apple’s PICT format in its internal memory, and cost $749. A year later, the QuickTake 150 was released, which was the first QuickTake model to support JPEG. Today, an iPhone 7 with 128 GB of memory can store around 50,000 photos of 12 Megapixels each, and the cost – still $749… With HEIF, the capacity of that iPhone 7 will grow to around 100,000 photos, which means that you can take 50 photos every day for 3 consecutive years without having to delete a single photo, and still have half of your storage capacity available for videos and apps…
What is HEIF?
By now you are probably asking, what is HEIF actually? Well, HEIF is short for High Efficiency Image Format. It is a standard developed by MPEG, the committee that developed all of the standard video compression technologies that were used to date – MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, H.264/AVC and the newest codec HEVC (also known as H.265). And indeed, the main application of HEIF is to store images that have been compressed using the image tools of the HEVC video compression standard. So typically, HEIF files store a single HEVC video frame. HEVC is the newest and most efficient video codec, so you can expect it to have excellent compression abilities even when used to compress single images and not a full video sequence.
Apple’s announcement of HEIF was coupled with another announcement in the video space: Apple will now support HEVC video compression in its MacOS and iOS platforms. This makes perfect sense, since the HEIF image compression is based on the HEVC video standard. But the HEVC announcement is very significant in its own right – you can read more about this in our post on the Beamr blog this week.
Who will win? Apple or Google?
An interesting question is what happens after capture? How are these photos shared on social networks, sent via email, or stored and edited on computers? JPEG conversion will probably happen at some point, until all the other parts of the ecosystem can natively support HEIF. And it won’t be easy: Google has been promoting WebP as an alternative image compression standard for years, and has been using it extensively across it’s Android and Chrome platforms. There is a big difference here, however: Android phones don’t capture photos in WebP format, while iOS 11 devices will capture HEIF natively. Will Google fight back by never adopting HEIF, and adding native WebP capture to Android, or will it join the HEIF camp? What will happen in the Facebook ecosystem (Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram) which is also heavily photo-centric? And when will Adobe start including HEIF support in Photoshop® and Lightroom®? It will be very interesting to see how this develops…
Minimizing the Minimized
So how does JPEGmini cope with these new developments? Well, to understand this we need to look at the bigger picture: The JPEGmini product line for reducing the file size of photos is part of Beamr’s wider portfolio of video optimization software and video compression SDKs. Beamr has developed the world’s best HEVC compression software, and the world’s first optimizing HEVC encoder, which reduces the bitrate of HEVC videos by 40%. Applying this technology to single frames of HEVC (which is essentially HEIF) would make a lot of sense after iOS 11 is released, and you can count on us to always support the latest standards, always reduce file sizes and never ever compromise quality.
Back In 1994, Apple introduced one of the world’s first digital cameras targeted at consumers: the QuickTake 100.
By now you are probably asking, what is HEIF actually?
Heif looks good. I like Jpegmini
We like you too!
Great post. Nice to know about these new formats, and what changes it will bring to the whole social-media-scenario.
If Apple is a cow in the stock market, does HEIF make it a heifer?
OK, that’s funny!
No it wasn’t.
What’s next? Heifmini?
Well Apple is the only one who is setting his own rule in the industry, without any doubt!! From image format to technology they don’t care what others are doing they are making their os and devices user friendly! I don’t know how long they can servive but…
Come On Baby Heif My Car…..
So … will iOS 11 save images in HEIF only? Or is DNG still available?
It appears that Apple will still support JPEGs but the default file format will be HEIF.
But what about DNG/RAW? So long as I have RAW format support in Lightroom Mobile and the other photo apps I paid good money for I’m good. I’m sure Apple will provide a way for users to share their iPhone photos with non-Apple users …. meaning, JPEG is still here.
Did they support shooting RAW/DNG from the built-in camera app of IOS? No. IOS supports reading DNG/RAW and there is no indication they’re removing that functionality only adding heif as an option. Your apps should be able to support it business as usual.
> Did they support shooting RAW/DNG from the built-in camera app of IOS?
Yes. They do/did.
Incorrect. The default camera app does not take RAW/DNG images. The Lightroom app uses the camera API to generate RAW/DNG files. It’s up to Adobe to continue supporting RAW/DNG in their app. Hence, “Your apps should be able to support it business as usual.”.
50% seems a bit of a stretch
Have you actually read and noticed what you link to?
In comparison to the newest JPEG, the performance varies, up to even 87%, but the average is 44% so up to 50% doesn’t seem a bit of a stretch.
Um ok – but yea let’s all step back to low-res world just to get the benefit. Examine that chart again and you’ll see JPEG is very inefficient at lower resolutions but is actually better at higher resolutions…
What are you talking about? First Class A, 2560×1600 resolution, 48%.
I guess some people — not me — might consider that low res. Some people may want to share 48 megapixel images online. I’m not sure why.
heif looks like it will be great, hevc sure is amazing. glad beamr will be there to provide solutions and answers to questions. jpegmini is a favourite trusted tool in my workflow, i’d love to see a heifmini tool to optimize heif if such a thing made any sense.
will jpegmini be able to make optimized jpegs from heif files? heif to jpg conversion built into jpegmini would be handy.
(i’d also love to see it support gif/bmp/webp to jpg added at some point if possible, basically drag any image and get a minified jpg.)
Is HEIF the new name for BPG, or are they competitors with the same idea?
The idea of using using HVEC frames the same way WebP uses WebM frames is a great idea. Does this mean that applications will potentially be able use hardware HVEC encoding /decoding for quick HEIF image processing?
great to hear you guys are ahead of the game… for those of us still catching up can we use the ‘world’s best HEVC compression software’? If I understood the website correctly I could only use it if I had Linux? Are you planning on Mac & Windows products or compression codecs?
so, how is HEIF pronounced? “Highfff” or “Hee-If” or “Heef”??? I see another Gif pronouncing battle up ahead….
Lord knows I’m not spelling that thing out like .PDF.
This is just like GIF all over again xp
Guessing it’ll be pronounced “hif” for symmetry with “gif”.
Photoshop and Lightroom will adopt pretty quickly. The reason you see so many updates to ACR (Adobe Camera Raw) converter is because they are quick to deconstruct and incorporate new camera formats into their workflow. Since ACR is the engine that both PSD and LR use to decode RAW images, it’s logical to decode HEIF into ACR and distribute either through ACR as a standalone, or within a incrimental update to PSD and LR, as they regularly do with new camera releases.
“while iOS 11 devices will capture HEIF natively.”
This would indeed be odd as the data coming from the sensor is invariably RAW data and needs to be subsequently converted to HEIF or JPEG before storage or transmission. Since IoS devices also have RAW available I assume this will be the case as I have never seen a JPEG native sensor. There’s no ‘native’ here…Don’t dumb it down so far- we can take it.
Its a big deal in the storage case for sure. Oceans more fuzzy photos to be deleted one day….
Although I want the world to move to a much more modern and efficient format I have this sinking feeling that Jpeg is here to stay with us for a while. Its not only very entrenched but it is good enough for most people – a combination that usually keeps outdated popular equipment or software in use far longer then is should be. Other examples are Windows XP or USB-A. I feel the iPhone is not likely going to change that.
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