Monday, 24 March 2014

Google's Image Format, WebP Will Allow For Faster page loading

Most of the images you encounter on the web come in the traditional file formats — JPG, PNG, and the ever-popular GIF. If Google has its way, though, you’re going to start seeing a new kind of file called WebP.
Google first introduced this image alternative back in 2010, but began making extensive use of it in the last year. In the newest release, WebP speeds up loading and adds support for animation, just like the venerable GIF.

The selling point for WebP is that it can display the same quality image using less data. That means fewer bits are needed for storage and transmission, which equals faster page loads for you. Of course, Google is also interested in WebP because its bandwidth bills go down when images are smaller. The first public release of WebP was able to shave 45% off the file size of a PNG when it was converted to WebP, and the newest 0.4.0 release offers a 25% increase in decode speed (loading images).

As an example of the snappy new performance, Google points to YouTube pages with all those video thumbnails. The page loads 10% faster using the new WebP. Those hefty GIFs blanketing Tumblr are also in Google’s sights — GIFs can now be converted to WebP for much smaller file size and smoother animation. However, none of this applies if you’re not using Chrome. Google’s browser is the only one that natively supports WebP. It seems the moderate bandwidth savings have not been enough to convince Firefox to add support, and Apple seems uninterested in adding WebP to Safari.

Google currently serves WebP images on some of its services like the Play Store, but it falls back to PNG/JPG for non-Chrome users. Google says it saves terabytes of data every day using WebP. If the new 0.4.0 update (currently in Chrome Beta) is able to make a dent in page load times, maybe other companies will finally get on board. Browser makers do love to show off their page load times.

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