Anniversaries of anyone – or anything – can be an exciting time! It’s a great opportunity to reminisce about the “way things were,” but with the anniversary of the JPEG turning 25, things are a little different. The JPEG has been a core standard for image compression, staying “current” for decades while other pieces of technology and software continue to go through iteration after iteration seemingly every few months.
New Horizon for Image Compression
As the JPEG turns 25, we are now beginning to hear about faster and more efficient image compression formats being developed that could potentially cut photo file sizes by 60 percent or more. The group responsible for the JPEG, the Joint Photographic Experts Group, has been developing the successor of the JPEG called JPEG XL.
With a more effective and more efficient compression format, users of JPEG XL would be able to store more photos on their mobile devices and personal computers, save more on their bandwidth usage by using less data to download what is essentially the same image, and have the ability to store even more files on their cloud storage.
The Race for the New Standard
JPEG XL isn’t the only image format that is being developed, which means that it’s a race for a handful of different “groups” to create the new standard for image formats and compression. Below are just a few of the image and video formats being developed in the hopes of creating the “new standard” for images/video.
- AVIF (AV1 Image Format), developed by Mozilla, Google, Netflix, and more.
- MIAF (Multi-Image Application Format), which is a simpler version of HEIF.
- HEIF (High-Efficiency Image Format), which is currently supported by Apple and Microsoft.
As a user, all of these new “standards” will mean more effective image compression when downloading and uploading images. These image formats, from JPEG to the JPEG XL and all of its “competitors,” drastically reduce the data storage size of the image without losing a lot of the quality of the image. These compression formats pull out less-necessary data from the file while retaining the heart of the image.
The challenge with having so many different image formats being developed and supported by different, large entities is that if there is no one true “standard” for the “new image format,” then the market (including both the users of the formats as well as the supporters/developers of the formats) will be severely divided. When a market is divided like that, it becomes challenging for creators of hardware (such as phones and computers) and software (such as the apps and websites that you use) to focus on which formats to fully support.
If the image format isn’t chosen as “the” image format for the majority of the market, then it’s harder for it to get adopted and used by everyone, and that could mean that the general user base of the public and developers of hardware/software will continue to use older formats like the 25-year-old JPEG.
Regardless of what happens, it will be interesting watching to see what happens and which image format will come out on top – or if the JPEG will continue to hold its position close to the top until a new successor is chosen by the entire market.