Posted 1/Oct 2010 at 12:38
by in Science & Tech read by 32 people

Google introduces WebP, they call it Weppy and promise to speed-up the internet

WebPictures, I guess it would stand for in all completeness. And it's Google's answer to good-old JPEG. It is build by combining the powers of RIFF and VP8. 

VP8 is a proven technique, developed by On2 and later - together with that company - purchased by Google which introduced a near-revolution in the World of Online Video when Adobe added the VP6, a predecessor of VP8, codec to their Flash player.

Suddenly video could be shown on Flash, in a much higher quality without increasing the filesize. Awesome.

My observation however was that it never really kicked off. Clients wanted their video to work in all versions of the Flash Player - including the somewhat outdated ones. And since they didn't have the codec yet it was back to Sorensen Spark. Or charge the client more for providing several video qualities - something many would just refuse.

Back to WebP. I've read a bit about it, and it actually sounds like an idea I had several years ago. But without the knowledge of how to actually put that into a working image format I never did anything with it. I'm better at making websites. The idea behind it appears to be that the file doesn't store the colour value of each pixel, but instead the difference between that pixel and the one next to it.

With this being done, you don't need nearly as much smudging as good ole' JPEG needs, to create a lot smaller file. And with some predictive technology, the filesize shrinks even more. A whole 40% smaller, according to Google.

But before we can actually start using it, we first need to have image editors, browsers and mobile phones to support it. And websites to start using it, generating the "critical mass". But with Google having Picasa, Chrome, Android and several websites - that can only be a matter of time.

And convincing, for as long as Microsoft's browser Internet Explorer doesn't support it - it won't get anywhere. Let's see if they continue the line set out slowly from IE7 to be more true to open standards.

So, why wouldn't this become the thing that makes the world forget JPEG? Simple reason, it is rather limited by resolution. Fine for the internet, but photo professionals need more than 16383x16383. Then again, they have their own formats without compression.

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