Google promises faster loading with WebP image format

Summary:Google has developed a new web image format known as WebP to deal with the issue of latency when loading image-heavy web pages, particularly on mobile devices.The announcement came via the Chromium blog on Thursday and claims that the new compression technique, based on the open-source VP8 codec, reduced JPEG file sizes by 39 percent and maintained image quality across the one million test samples .

Google has developed a new web image format known as WebP to deal with the issue of latency when loading image-heavy web pages, particularly on mobile devices.

The announcement came via the Chromium blog on Thursday and claims that the new compression technique, based on the open-source VP8 codec, reduced JPEG file sizes by 39 percent and maintained image quality across the one million test samples .

Google said that it also incorporated a lightweight container based on RIFF, which contributes just 20 bytes to the overall file size but crucially allows authors to include meta-data with images.

Richard Rabbat, product manager at Google said that the team focused on lossy JPEG images rather than less popular lossless formats such as PNG and GIF, as they make up the majority of web pictures.

"Images and photos make up about 65% of the bytes transmitted per web page today. They can significantly slow down a user's web experience, especially on bandwidth-constrained networks such as a mobile network," wrote Rabbat.

As part of the announcement, Google launched a demo site to show off the format and a WebP conversion tool aimed at developers. The software is currently Linux-only but Google says that a Windows version is coming soon.

WebP images won't be viewable on the web until browsers add support for the new format but Google says that it is "developing a patch for WebKit to provide native support for WebP in an upcoming release of Google Chrome. We plan to add support for a transparency layer, also known as alpha channel in a future update."

Topics: Mobility

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