Apple will finally support the AVIF format, successor to JPEG

News hardware Apple will finally support the AVIF format, successor to JPEG

The Cupertino company is often reluctant to accept new formats in its ecosystem. It’s a giant leap from Apple to open up to new codecs. The announcement is still to be nuanced…

Apple will support AVIF, yes, but

The latest iOS 16 update brings compatibility with the new AVIF format. This one is here to dethrone the classic JPEG which is aging rather badly. Even if you haven’t heard of the format yet, it should be more and more present around us. It is already found in Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox, as well as operating systems like Android 12 and Windows 11.

The latest version of Mac OS 13 Ventura will also support this new format. On the other hand, it is necessary to nuance, it is only a question of adding compatibility. Photos taken on iPhone will not change to this format. Apple is keen to keep its proprietary formats for a few more years. It’s a classic for the Cupertino company which focuses on everything that can allow it to keep power over its products. The most striking example remains the Lightning charging port, which pays off big for Apple.

Another nuance to make on this implementation is the absence of the AV1 video format. Yet this is the basis on which AVIF images are based. Apple seems to be hooked on its QuickTime movie (.mov) format.

Why AVIF is better than JPEG?

There are quite a few formats that are struggling, it’s up to the one who will dethrone the JPEG king. We can cite six of them, including AVIF, which remains the best candidate for widespread adoption by the industry:

  • Webp : the Google format used to lighten images on the Internet and thus make the loading of sites more fluid. The format isn’t bad, but does only marginally better than JPEG, with poor off-internet compatibility.
  • WebP2 : still by Google, this is an improved version of the previous format
  • HEIC : coming from the MPEG group, it is used a lot under iOS.
  • JPEG2000 : coming from the JPEG group, this is the first evolution of the classic JPEG
  • JPEG-XL : from the group of the same name, it is currently in terms of general performance the best format that combines all the advantages.
  • AVIF : resulting from the alliance of many companies which come together under
    the AOM alliance
    . It is an open source format.

The advantages of AVIF are numerous compared to JPEG. We already find a possibility of transparency as on PNG images. This reduces the number of essential codecs. HDR (high dynamic range) is supported, offering much better contrast in photos for example. Then what makes it so powerful is its compression. The reduction in size ranges from 40 to 90% compared to JPEG, without losing quality.

This format is therefore open source and comes from the work of dozens of companies like Google, Amazon, Adobe, AMD, etc. Despite this, the European Commission is investigating on the possibility for this format to become so hegemonic that members could exclude those who do not respect their conditions. It would also have the effect of restricting the ability of other companies to innovate towards better formats.

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