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What is it and why does it improve image quality on Android


AVIF promises to be the imaging format of the future. This is all you need to know.

The image format of the future is a reality. His name is AVIF, and although you may not know it until now, the device you are using to read this article will support it very soon, if it does not already.

AVIF is, to the field of the image, what AV1 was to the video: A format revolutionary which will offer the possibility of having image files much smaller than JPG, without this resulting in a loss of quality.

Photography with the Xiaomi Mi 11

Photography with an Android mobile.

What is AVIF exactly?

I used to compare AVIF with the AV1 video format, and it is precisely this image format that is based on the AV1 type. In fact, AVIF is the acronym for AV1 Image File Format.

And this is so because AVIF is an image format derived from a video codec, created based on AV1 specifications and the HEIF standard. Thus, an AFIV file is not much more than a compressed HEIF image using AV1 codec.

Broadly speaking, it is a format comparable to WebP, another image format for the web, developed by Google, which has been used for years in a large number of portals and websites - in fact, if you download one of the images inserted in this article, you will get a WebP file, and not a JPG–.

The main virtue of AVIF over WebP is the fact that it is based on a much more modern and advanced codec as is AV1, instead of the VP8 codec used by WebP.

AV1

The official logo of the AV1 codec.

Day by day, AVIF is already supported by some of the most popular platforms and services in the world. Mozilla was among the first to do so, in January 2021, including support for AVIF in the Firefox browser.

Later it was Google who introduced support for the AVIF format in version 89 of the Google Chrome browser, and shortly before it had already announced that Android 12, the next major update to the most used mobile operating system on the planet, will give native support for this format. images.

Therefore, it is clear that your reception is being more than positive, and it seems clear that 2021 will be the year that AVIF comes to take over the web. But, What are its advantages over other formats?.

What improvements does it offer?

As every time a new image format appears for the web, we find the advantage of being able to obtain the same image quality in smaller files.

In the case of AVIF, we get a better compression than other formats such as PNG, JPG, GIF or WebP itself. Specifically, the reduction in size makes the final files weigh less than a third the weight of a JPG of comparable quality, and about half of what a WebP would weigh Similary.

JPEG vs AVIF

Comparison of JPG (on the left) and AVIF (on the right).

Another great advantage over other formats is the support for HDR or high dynamic range images. Additionally, AVIF offers support for animated images, with transparency or lossless, as well as a color depth of up to 12 bits –Although today most panels offer a maximum of 10 bits of color depth–.

Although that's not all. One of the great disadvantages of WebP it was its time of adoption by some platforms. Apple, for example, it took almost ten years to include WebP support in its web browser, Safari.

However, since both Apple, as well as many other big-name companies, including Google, VideoLAN, Facebook or Netflix are part of the group that supports AVIF, its implementation on the main platforms should be much more agile.

What are the differences between AVIF and JPEG?

Some comparisons have already made clear the advantages of AVIF over JPEG, showing that the new format is capable of offering much higher quality images in files of the same size, thanks to more modern and efficient compression techniques.

These techniques consist, among other things, in use existing data between frames in a video, instead of using full frames. In this way, the reconstructed image offers similar or even higher quality, while reducing the file size.

Though not all are advantages. It is necessary to take into account that uploading JPG files to the web "seems" faster Since the rendering occurs in multiple phases, which allow the photograph to be previewed until it is fully loaded.

Photography with Android mobile

Photography with an Android mobile.

In the case of AVIF, image fully loads, and you cannot view the progress or preview the image before it is fully loaded.

To that we must add that encoding in AVIF requires a higher load on the processor if the proper techniques are not used. And, in some tools such as the online image compressor created by Google engineers, Squoosh, the possibility of encode each block in the AVIF image in parallel, taking advantage of all the processor cores and reducing encoding time.

If adoption by major platforms is fast enough, it seems highly likely that WebP and JPG days are numbered. AVIF is a format much superior to both in most aspects, and except for some other detail that still needs to be polished, everything indicates that we are facing the new holy grail of photography.

Its advantages, of course, will not only be usable in the web environment: when Android 12 reaches mobile phones and it is possible to capture images in this format, we will see how our photographs take up less storage space while offering the best quality, thus reducing the space occupied by image files and leaving more space for the rest of the content.

Related topics: Android, Photography, Google