Google Releases WebP Image Format

Aron Schatz
October 1, 2010

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Google has released a new image format for the web. It is called "WebP" and it originates from the WebM video codec. It also looks worse than JPG images in the examples. I guess they need to work on the encoder a bit more.


As part of Google’s initiative to make the web faster, over the past few months we have released a number of tools to help site owners speed up their websites. We launched the Page Speed Firefox extension to evaluate the performance of web pages and to get suggestions on how to improve them, we introduced the Speed Tracer Chrome extension to help identify and fix performance problems in web applications, and we released a set of closure tools to help build rich web applications with fully optimized JavaScript code. While these tools have been incredibly successful in helping developers optimize their sites, as we’ve evaluated our progress, we continue to notice a single component of web pages is consistently responsible for the majority of the latency on pages across the web: images.

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. 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. As part of this effort, we are releasing a developer preview of a new image format, WebP, that promises to significantly reduce the byte size of photos on the web, allowing web sites to load faster than before.

If I had to guess, I would suspect this would be a push to incorporate WebP decoders into smartphones and such to allow faster browsing... When that happens, Google's WebM video codec has an easy entry since the frames can be decoded by the WebP decoding hardware. Win-win for Google.



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