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Google might not have a JPG killer

by on04 October 2010

Developers mock
Developers have been mocking Search engine outfit Google after it released an experimental new image format called WebP which it claims can reduce the file size of lossy images making the image look pants.

The format can shrink the file size by 39 percent by using the VP8 still-image compression codec. Because it is jolly good at compressing lossy images, Google hopes that WebP might someday replace JPEG as the standard format for photos, at least on the Web.

Google product manager Richard Rabbat wrote on the Chromium bog that the VP8 video intra frame coding managed to improve still image coding. All Google had to do was adapted a lightweight container based on RIFF to make it work. This container format contributes a minimal overhead of only 20 bytes per image, it is extensible to allow authors to save meta-data they would like to store, he said.

Google bought the VP8 video codec last year when it acquired media technology company On2 and it later opened the source code. At the time it was hailed as a “significant milestone for open video on the Web”.

The weekend's announcement means that On2's technology can be used in unexpected ways. Google has already produced a patch for WebKit and wants to support the format natively in future versions of its own Chrome Web browser.

However not everyone likes the idea. Writing in his bog, Jason Garret-Glaser, a well-known x264 developer said that Google was trying to dump yet another image format on the world.

“It’s just a VP8 intra frame. There are some obvious practical problems with this new image format in comparison to JPEG; it doesn’t even support all of JPEG’s features, let alone many of the much-wanted features JPEG was missing lossless support,” he snarled.

“It only supports 4:2:0 chroma subsampling, while JPEG can handle 4:2:2 and 4:4:4. Google doesn’t seem interested in adding any of these features either,” continued to moan. He said that he could understand the push for 'WebP' if it was better than JPEG, and technically as a file format it is, and an encoder could be made for it that's better than JPEG.

Garret-Glaser said that at the moment libvpx is an awful encoder and Google will have to be nuts to expect punters to replace JPEG with this “blurry mess”.

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