May 29, 2013 - 1 comment.

Is WebP the future of web images?

You might have heard on the grapevine that Google have been working a new image format- the imaginatively named WebP. For those of you that aren’t in the know, WebP is based on the VP8 video codec and search engine mogul Google is reporting that the image format is able to achieve a compression rating that’s between 30% and 80% higher than conventional JPEG’s.  Pretty impressive, non?

Even more impressive is the fact that WebP isn’t just a JPEG replacement – it’s far, far cooler than that. The big news on the block is that Web P supports both lossy and lossless compression, transparency and animation. This means that WebP has the ability to replace GIFs and PNGs too. It’s even able to create lossy compressed alpha transparent PNGs which is something that even the current PNG formats can’t do!

At the minute support isn’t great as it’s a format that only works natively inside Opera and Chrome, but Google have helpfully explained a couple of ways in which different images can be served based on headers and/or user agents.

With images taking the majority of the page weight of most modern sites, the WebP format is unbelievably exciting as it has the potential to make some dramatic savings in page weight and load times. This Oakley parallax microsite is a great example – it’s currently 86MB, but with a little help from WebP images page size has been reduced to 28MB, saving a massive 56MB!

With Ebay and Facebook currently undertaking WebP trials and  the might of Google behind this project, I imagine the internet will be awash with WebP images faster than you can say “GIF filled tumblr”.  Once mass support on the web has been achieved, it’s only a matter of time before other industries will begin using this new format. Camera makers are the obvious first choice but there is no reason this technology can’t be used in any industry where images are used and stored.

What do you think about WebP? Is it a format that’s about to take the world by storm? We’d love to know your thoughts.