WebP and AVIF image formats are a problem. And despite this, they take control of the entire network

JPEG and PNG have been the most used image formats for the past 25 years, but that’s changing. Two more modern formats, WebP there AVIFthey replace them, even if it means dozens of incompatibility issues. If you’ve uploaded an image and instead of being a jpg it’s a format you can’t open, it may be because it’s a WebP or AVIF image and that your operating system, program or website is not updated to work with this format.

The advantages of these new formats are obvious: they are open source, they reduce the size of the images to a minimum, there is less loss of quality, they are compatible with animated images of the GIF type and in general allow web pages to be much more agile.

We can agree that these are strong enough arguments to make it worth betting on these formats. However, the adoption process is slower than desired, and along the way, users encounter many errors.

What are they good for if we can’t open these images

Google created WebP (Web Picture Format) in 2010, but it’s only mid-2018 when the first library supporting this new format was completed. Since then, little by little this type of image has spread, promising a size 26% lighter than PNG and 34% lighter than JPEG.

Google Chrome is the main support for this format, although fortunately it is also compatible with Safari from version 14, macOS Sierra, Mozilla Firefox from 2019 and Microsoft Edge from 2020.

Avif problem

Example of an error in WordPress when trying to upload an AVIF image.

Today, the format is widely supported, although there are many tools that have only been supported in recent updates. From LibreOffice i have wordpress. This means that if we have a WebP image and we want to upload it to the web, it will often give an error. Fortunately, since 2020, most major programs have chosen to integrate WebP support. Since Pixelmator until photoshop.

The the problem is more common when working with smaller tools. PNG and JPEG support is generally complete, but it’s less common for a lesser-known program or website without as many resources to work just fine with WebP. Many Linux image viewers also lack basic WebP support.

A solution when we have a WebP image is convert to jpeg. There are many options here. First, try downloading it directly in JPEG, changing the web url. Many of these images end in .webp, but replacing .jpeg will sometimes allow us to download the same image in the format we know is widely supported.

If that doesn’t work, another option is to open the WebP with an image editing program. It may be the same painting. Through the “Save as” or “Export” option, we can choose JPEG.

AVIF, history repeats itself (and the support is even smaller)

If WebP is a first attempt to remove the dominance of JPEG and PNG, AVIF has all the numbers for eventually become the imaging standard of the next decade. The effectiveness of AVIF it is superior in all tests to JPEG, but also to WebP. And unlike this one, created by Google, AVIF is an open format championed by the entire industry and developed in 2019 by the Alliance for Open Media.

AVIF is a format derived from AV1 codec From the video. And the advantages over WebP are many, starting with AVIF supports HDR images with 12-bit colorfor the 10 bits of HEIF or the 8 bits of WebP.

But again, we encounter the same problem. It is true that these formats are more modern and useful, but we users find that not all programs are compatible with them and in the end we end up downloading images that we cannot enjoy later.

Being a more modern format, AVIF still has less support than WebP. To use these images we will need Google Chrome or Firefox, but it does not work in Microsoft Edge, in Safari halfway and only from iOS16 support has been added.

It’s about browsers. If we go to operating systems, we have a similar problem: we will need the latest versions to run AVIF. In the case of Microsoft, Windows 10 or higher will be required, in the case of macOS it will be necessary to update to macOS Ventura, presented this year. Which causes if we don’t have a state-of-the-art computer, we won’t be able to open the AVIF images that are already embedded in many websites.

AVIF has many arguments to become the dominant format on the web, both on desktop and on mobile. Due to its small size and excellent compression, many websites add it by default to replace jpg. But we are in a race. On the one hand, the expansion of this format on the Internet and, on the other hand, the updating of all the tools and programs that we use to be able to work with this format. JPEG or PNG weren’t a problem, but it’s time to change them.

Leave a Comment