In iOS 11, Apple is replacing JPEG images with a new image format called HEIC. Google is adopting HEIC images in Android P. Nokia supports HEIC images. Microsoft is doing same with Windows 10. Why? HEIC is a new image format that lets you take photographs with the same quality as JPEG format but at about 40% of the file size. That means you can store more images on your devices, as well as save data while upload/sharing images over the internet.
You may see HEIC mentioned in some places and HEIF as well too. The simple explanation is that HEIC images are based on the technical HEIF standard. You may also see HEVC (High Efficiency Video Coding) mentioned. HEVC is what makes the compression that produces HEIC images possible. If all that confuses you, just note that HEIF images have filenames that end in HEIC, similar to how you currently have filenames that end in .jpg, e.g. mistermo.heic.
So, HEIC is an improvement on JPEG and may ultimately replace it for most case uses. For now though, it isn’t so popular yet, but the big boys are embracing it. It is already in use on some iPhones. For example, dual camera images captured on iPhone X, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone 7 Plus use this format. Newer macbooks also already support the file format.
Who Created The HEIF/HEIC Format?
HEIC was not created by one single product manufacturer. It springs from the work of the Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG), “a working group of authorities that was formed by ISO and IEC to set standards for audio and video compression and transmission”.
HEIC Images Compatibility Issues
Because it isn’t in widespread use yet, there are compatibility issues with HEIC. Not every device – desktop, cell phone and others – can display HEIC images yet. So, the immediate solution is to let users convert HEIC images to JPEG when they need to view them on unsupported devices.
Another approach that Apple has taken to address the current compatibility issue is provide iPhone users with the option to shoot photos in JPEG instead of HEIC. If you own an iPhone, you can dive into the Settings to change what format your phone uses for camera images.
Android P will come with the ability to take and display HEIC photos, as well as to convert JPEG photos to HEIC. Cnet reports that “A test version of Windows 10 – a step on the road to a version due this fall – has the ability to display HEIF images in its Photos app and any other software drawing on on Windows’ built-in imaging foundations.”
Adoption of HEIC will spread, the initial compatibility issues notwithstanding. Technology that saves storage space on devices and reduces file transfer sizes is gold, as humanity dives headlong into data.