Google has developed a new format for Web images called WebP, which it says can reduce image file sizes by 40 percent compared to the widely used JPEG format. Like JPEG, WebP is a lossy format, which means it trades image quality for file size but aims to reproduce an image so that it comes as close as possible to the original when viewed by human eyes.
"When we took a bunch of images, recompressed them from their current lossy formats into WebP, we saw on average about 40 percent decrease in size, which is staggering," says Google researcher Richard Rabbat. Google plans to release a utility to convert graphics into WebP images, and eventually plans to build WebP directly into Google's Chrome browser.
However, encoding WebP images takes about eight times longer than JPEG and decoding them takes slightly less than twice as long, Rabbat says. It also could be tough to compete with JPEG. Previous efforts to promote better Web graphics formats have had little impact, and Rabbat acknowledges that "the challenges are tremendous."
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