WebP

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WebP
Webplogo.png
Filename extension
.webp
Internet media type
image/webp
Magic numberWEBP
Developed byGoogle
Initial releaseSeptember 30, 2010; 9 years ago (2010-09-30)
Type of format
Contained byResource Interchange File Format (RIFF)
Open format?Yes
Websitedevelopers.google.com /speed/webp
libwebp
Developer(s)Google
Stable release
1.0.3 / July 4, 2019; 14 months ago (2019-07-04)
Repositorychromium.googlesource.com/webm/libwebp
Written inC
PlatformCross-platform
TypeDigital imaging
LicenseBSD license
Websitedevelopers.google.com /speed/webp

WebP is a highly compressing image format supporting both lossy and lossless compression. It is developed by Google using much of the same underlying technology used to compress VP9 video. WebP is supported by all the major web browsers once Apple releases iOS14 and macOS 11 with Safari 14.

WebP can be used to storage any image for any purpose but it was not developed for general-purpose image storage in mind. Google made it specifically for web use.

Compression

WebP is outright amazing when it compared to JPEG, PNG and other image formats that are common on the world wide web. While the following is not at all even remotely scientific, it is worth considering: Humble has an affiliate program that allows "partners" to earn a small percentage of sales generated by those who click links on partner sites. They make "marketing assets" available to those who participate in this program. These assets are distributed by them as PNG images. Running convert, from ImageMagick, with no extra arguments on a series of those images produce the following results:

Computer Graphics
File Original PNG image PNG, after pngquant JPG WebP
01.png 744K 216K 264K 72K
02.png 1.4M 344K 336K 92K
03.png 552K 140K 148K 44K
04.png 860K 224K 224K 60K
05.png 184K 44K 112K 36K

The WebP images in this random example are five to fifteen times smaller than the original PNG images and three to four times smaller than the JPEG images.

The storage savings are not as huge when it comes to photos. The following is a table comparing the file size of a series of images taken with a Redmi 4 Prime smartphone using the default stock photo application on it which saves images as JPEG files. The "JPEG to JPEG" column show file sizes after the images are "converted" from JPEG to JPEG using the ImageMagick convert tool and WebP refers to the file size after the original JPEG has been converted to WebP using convert.

Photos (Redmi 4 Prime)
File Original (JPG) JPEG to JPEG WebP
IMG_20200525_144816.jpg 420K 396K 188K
IMG_20200525_144858.jpg 428K 404K 188K
IMG_20200525_160810.jpg 3.1M 3.0M 2.6M
IMG_20200525_180344.jpg 312K 280K 104K
IMG_20200525_180349.jpg 332K 300K 116K
IMG_20200525_180351.jpg 340K 312K 124K
IMG_20200525_191444.jpg 4.0M 3.9M 2.7M
IMG_20200525_191457.jpg 3.8M 3.7M 2.5M
IMG_20200525_191541.jpg 456K 432K 212K

The original file size is reduced by between half and a third when photos are converted from JPEG to WebM. Do note that visual quality is outright ignored in this example. The original JPEG images looks identical to the WebM image files through my glasses. Yours may or may not be cleaner than my glasses.

Web Browser Support

Web browser support, desktop
Edge Falkon Firefox Internet Explorer Opera Safari for macOS
Dialog-ok.svg 18+ Dialog-ok.svg 2.0+ Dialog-ok.svg 65+ Dialog-cancel.svg Discontinued Dialog-ok.svg 19+ Dialog-ok.svg 14+
Web browser support, mobile / tablet
Android Browser Baidu Browser Chrome for Android Firefox for Android Opera Mobile Safari for iOS Samsung Internet QQ Browser
Dialog-ok.svg 4.2+ Dialog-ok.svg 7.12 Dialog-ok.svg 25+ Dialog-ok.svg 68+ Dialog-ok.svg 12+ Dialog-ok.svg 14+ Dialog-ok.svg 4+ Dialog-ok.svg 10.4

Application Support

This is where it gets a bit dicey. Modern Linux distributions do come with the libraries required to view and manipulate WebP images but there is a sad lack of support in many applications. Several good image viewers like geeqie simply can't into WebP. There are quite a few, notably older, programs that do not support it.

The GNU Image Manipulation Program can open and save WebP images.

All programs made using the KDE frameworks, such as the gwenview image viewer and the kolourPaint image editor, support WebP.

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