Technology

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JPEG-XL: Our next 20 year bet

JPEG-XL is newest image format and Gumlet is first cloud provider to support it. Apple has announced support for the same in upcoming operating systems and Safari.

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JPEG-XL: Our next 20 year bet
Gumlet is bringing JPEG-XL to our customers before any other cloud service. Here is story on how we did it and why.

We all know JPEG is king of all image formats. Even after the advent of WebP and AVIF, JPEG continues to account for over 30% of the total images delivered by Gumlet, even with the magic of automatic image conversion that we do.

For the average person, using JPEG is the safest and best option. It is compatible with all operating systems, browsers, and apps. It also has a reasonably small file size compared to PNG - another widely used image format.

JPEG's notable limitations, such as the lack of transparency, animation, lossless compression and high bit-depth support, make it challenging to justify its position as the leading format for times to come. Several attempts, like WebP and AVIF, have been made (and are supported on modern browsers) to address the issues of JPEG, but they also have their own shortcomings. Instead of discussing these shortcomings, let's see how the web is set to change with this new format - JPEG-XL.

Built for the Future

We believe that JPEG-XL is the next 20-year format. Why?

For multiple reasons:

  • 60-70% smaller size compared to similar quality JPEG 😮
  • Dimension of up to a billion pixels allowed (JPEG-XL exclusive)
  • 4099 channels support (JPEG-XL exclusive)
  • Animation support
  • Tile support for large images
  • Progressive decoding (see low-resolution image first before full image loads - JPEG-XL and JPEG exclusive)
  • Lossless encoding support
  • Wide-color gamut support
  • Extremely fast for both encoding and decoding (WebP and AVIF are much slower)
  • Royalty-free 🤘

This basically means anything a photographer, developer, animator, or creator thinks of; this format can support it. Everyone is happy and gets to use one format for everything.

YAY!

As always, there is a twist. This format is not currently supported by any operating system, browser, or mobile app. ☹️

The good news is that this will change with the new Apple operating system.

Apple to the Rescue 🍎

The format was in trial by Chrome and Firefox, but to much of everyone's disappointment, it was dropped by both in December 2022. However, to everyone's surprise, Apple added support for JPEG-XL in iOS 17, macOS Sonoma and most importantly, Safari browser.

Chrome and Firefox were testing this format, but to everyone's disappointment, they dropped it in December 2022. However, to everyone's surprise, Apple added support for JPEG-XL in iOS 17, macOS Sonoma, and most importantly, the Safari browser.

This means that all apps on these platforms will also have JPEG-XL support, and all websites can use JPEG-XL when a user is on Safari.

This will improve workflows for artists and photographers and make developers' lives easy by ensuring the best image quality is displayed while having the smallest size.

Gumlet Rollout

We were super excited by Apple's announcement, and we worked hard over the last few months to add support for JPEG-XL in Gumlet image optimization product. This means any iOS 17 or macOS Sonoma user with Safari browser will automatically get a JPEG-XL image.

Our customers don't need to do a single thing! It's available to all for free, without even flipping a switch. We have already flipped it :)

If you want to try it, pass format=jxl in query parameters.

Test Image

There will be more browsers who will follow suit in the coming years. If you want to test browser support, here is a test image:

gumlet jpeg-xl test image

You can also check support on Caniuse.

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