Can WebP Win the Image Format Wars?

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Last year Google introduced the WebP image format, intending it to be an alternative to JPEG. While it boasted 25-34% better compression when compared to JPEG images, the adoption of WebP on the whole has been sparse. That may change as additional encoding modes roll out.

In October, Google announced WebP support for animation, ICC profile, XMP metadata and tilting. And two new modes of WebP, one for compressing images losslessly and another offering better support for transparency (also known as alpha channel) have been released this month.

According to Google, the new lossless mode “offers a 45% reduction in size when starting with PNGs found on the web, and a 28% reduction in size compared to PNGs that are re-compressed with pngcrush and pngout” (both of which are popular tools for optimizing PNG files) – which consequently are the JPEG alternative of choice for those needed transparency or lossless encoding.

Google, in its ongoing quest to speed up the Web, has clearly not given up on WebP. Whether it will become the image format of choice and the hearts and heads of designers is anyone’s guess however.

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