What is the HEIF format, and what benefits does it bring concerning the historical JPEG.
The HEIF (High-Efficiency Image Format ) format, already used by Apple in iOS, will soon land in Android P and has just appeared in the latest preview version of Windows 10.
What is HEIF
In short, HEIF (files produced in this format can have the extension .heic ) is destined to be the successor to the historic JPEG format.
The JPEG standard was born in 1992, and the most recent version still widely used today dates back to 1994: it is therefore quite normal that after 15 years, we begin to look to a more modern format and more suitable for the technological evolution that has been recorded in the last times.
HEIF guarantees better quality images than JPEG while allowing smaller file sizes to be obtained.
According to MPEG ( Moving Picture Experts Group ) and Apple, HEIF images take up about half the space of a JPEG file stored at the same (or lower than HEIF) quality.
In turn-based, on the HEVC (or H.265) video compression standard, HEIF makes it possible to greatly exceed JPEG in terms of results thanks to the use of more advanced algorithms.
Although Apple has led the way in the use of HEIF, it is not a technology patented by Apple. Far from it. HEIF is a universally usable standard that bases its functioning on the standards developed by MPEG, the joint technical committee formed by the international organization’s ISO and IEC in 1988.
HEIF also offers features completely absent in the JPEG format, such as the ability to use transparency and 16-bit colors.
An iPhone camera can capture 10-bit images, which is why Apple has chosen the standard that takes a big leap over JPEG’s 8-bit.
Furthermore, on HEIF images, you can apply rotations, crops, insert titles and apply overlays without modifying the original file in any way. This, therefore, means that you can undo changes made to a HEIF file at any time.
In addition, HEIF can collect multiple images, contain auxiliary images for alpha channel management, depth maps, images, live audio and video, HDR information.
Files with the .heic extension are nothing more than “containers” for multimedia content encoded with HEVC.
When taking a Live Photo with the iPhone, for example, an .heic file is generated that contains a series of photos and the audio captured during the shooting operation.
Thanks to HEIF, therefore, the images captured with the camera of your mobile devices will also be easier to upload online, for example, on cloud services for backup purposes.
Therefore, the space available on the cloud will run out less quickly, and the upload procedure in original quality will take much less time.
The only drawback of HEIF is compatibility
The HEIF format is unfortunately not yet manageable with any software: it is precisely for this reason, in order not to cause compatibility problems, iOS converts .heic images to JPEG when you ask to attach them to an email message or share them. Online.
Starting with macOS High Sierra, the Apple operating system directly supports it.HEIF and.HEIC files while Microsoft has announced to embrace the new format in Windows 10 only now.
The preview version of Windows 10, marked by build number 17123, then officially opens to the HEIF format, and the Photos app integrated into the operating system has been made fully compatible.
In iOS it is possible to disable the acquisition of images in HEIF format, and, of course, this will also be possible with future mobile devices based on Android P.
HEIF will not replace JPEG on the Web site, at least in the short and medium term: Chrome, Firefox, Edge, and Safari just don’t support the new format. Additionally, Google is trying to promote the WebP format while working on other alternatives: Compress JPEG images up to 35% more without losing quality.
A tech-savvy writer with a knack for finding the latest technology in the market, this is what describes John Carter. With more than 8 years of experience as a journalist, John graduated as an engineer and ventured soon into the world of online journalism. His interest includes gadget reviews, decoding OS errors, hunting information on the latest technology, and so on.