The Internet has grown to enormous proportions nowadays due especially to the huge amount of content uploaded by normal users, many companies, such as search-giant Google (that, for many people, is actually synonymous with the Internet) trying to find all sorts of methods to streamline this user-generated content “floating” online.
Obviously, the reason why such a streamlining process is necessary is related directly to the amount of hardware required in order to sustain the aforementioned content, which is also growing almost on a daily basis.
Anyway, back to the subject at hand, it seems that Google's trying to do something about all of the photos users upload online, by introducing its own web-friendly photo format, called WebP (and pronounced Weppy).
WebP is a method of lossy compression that can be used on photographic images.
The degree of compression is adjustable so a user can choose the trade-off between file size and image quality.
A WebP file consists of VP8 image data, and a container based on RIFF.
Webmasters, web developers and browser developers can use the WebP format to create smaller, better looking images that can help make the web faster.
WebP uses predictive coding to encode an image, the same methodology used by the VP8 video codec to compress keyframes in videos.
Predictive coding uses the values in neighboring blocks of pixels to predict the values in a block, and then encodes only the difference (residual) between the actual values and the prediction.
The residuals typically contain many zero values, which can be compressed much more effectively and then transformed, quantized and entropy-coded as usual.
Plus, WebP also uses variable block sizes.
For the time being, Google released a lightweight decoder for WebP files (libvpx) and a command line tool (webpconv) for converting images to and from the WebP format, but they do inform us that the WebP team is developing a patch to WebKit to provide native support for WebP in an upcoming release of Google Chrome.
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