Google WebP Available for Free Download, Converts and Reduces Image Sizes and Bytes of Photos

Written By Sam on 8 October 2010
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Images and photos make up majority of the bytes transmitted per web page; they are also responsible slowing down a user’s web experience. As part of its effort to make the web faster, Google recently released a new image format, WebP (pronounced ‘Weppy’), which promises to significantly reduce the byte size of photos on the web, allowing web sites to load faster than before.

Google noted that images on the web consist primarily of lossy formats such as JPEG, and to a lesser extent lossless formats such as PNG and GIF. The company, therefore, focused on improving compression of the lossy images, which constitute the larger percentage of images on the web. And they finally came up with the WebP solution that:

  • Uses an image compressor, based on the VP8 codec, to compress JPEG images. Google open-sourced VP8 in May 2010.
  • Applies the techniques from VP8 video intra frame coding to push the envelope in still image coding
  • Adapts a very lightweight container based on RIFF. While this container format contributes a minimal overhead of only 20 bytes per image, it is extensible to allow authors to save meta-data they would like to store.

Google is understood to have randomly picked about 1,000,000 images from the web (mostly JPEGs and some PNGs and GIFs) and re-encoded them to WebP without perceptibly compromising visual quality. They claim to have achieved an average 39% reduction in file size.

The company has also released a conversion tool that you can use to convert images to the WebP format. The company is gung ho about working with the browser and web developer community on the WebP spec and on adding native support for WebP. While WebP images can’t be viewed until browsers support the format, Google isnunderstood to be developing a patch for WebKit to provide native support for WebP in an upcoming release of Google Chrome.

The WebP for Linux x86 (64-bit) is available for free download from http://code.google.com/speed/webp/download.html that includes lightweight decoder for WebP files (libvpx) and a command line tool (webpconv) for converting images to and from the WebP format.

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