AVIF - The New Image Format

Oct 10, 2021

The AV1 image format (AVIF) is a new innovative open-source, royalty-free image format that works with any image codec. In comparison to JPEG, PNG, and WebP, an AVIF image often has a smaller file size and is currently supported by Google Chrome, Firefox, and Android.

A New Image Format

AVIF is a static image format developed by Alliance for Open Media (AOMedia) in conjunction with Google, Cisco, and Xiph.org from an extraction of the keyframes of the video format AV1.

Netflix has already praised this new technology, noting that the AVIF picture format is considerably superior to JPEG, PNG, and even the newer WebP image formats in terms of image quality to compressed file size ratio. HDR and monochrome images, as well as color depths of 8, 10, and 12 bits, are supported by AVIF. It also supports Lossless and lossy compression.

Many companies have started using or adding support for AVIF files as of late 2020. Netflix, for example, has started using AVIF files internally, while Google has added AVIF compatibility to Android 12 and Chrome. Users can also use a codec offered by Microsoft to view AVIF images in apps like Microsoft Paint.

With the JPEG being around for decades and still lacking a number of features that today’s users demand, it’s time for a new improved alternative, which makes the AVIF a really interesting breakthrough with a lot of potential. As the AV1 Image format grows more popular, more organizations and applications are expected to add support for AVIF images.

Browsers Support for AVIF

Support for the AVIF picture file format was added to Google Chrome 85 and Firefox 93 versions in October 2021. Your browser will also be supported if it is currently running a newer version than one of these. Microsoft Edge isn’t currently supported as of this writing, but since the new Microsoft Edge uses the same Chromium engine, it won’t be long until it is.

If you’re a Microsoft user, though, you can get an AV1 Extension add-on from the Microsoft Store. If Edge is installed, this enables you to play AV1-encoded video on Windows 10 devices.

Safari, the popular browser on Apple devices such as iPhones, currently does not support AVIF, and while it took them ten years to add WebP support, they are expected to be much faster this time because they are part of the AOMedia group that invented AV1.

Key Benefits of AVIF

AVIF is compatible with high-dynamic-range imaging, just as its predecessors (WebP, JPEG-XR, JPEG2000, and PNG, GIF). It enables full-resolution 10- and 12-bit color, resulting in images that are up to ten times smaller than competing formats.

Here are some highlights of why the format is the best choice for the developers:

  • You can use it without worrying about a license because it is royalty-free.
  • It is now backed by a number of major tech companies, including Google, Amazon, Netflix, Microsoft, and others.
  • It has the best compression ratio.
  • Transparency, HDR, a large color gamut, and other modern technologies are included.

Additional Features

AVIF includes the following characteristics in addition to improved compression:

  • Through layered images saved in image sequences, AVIF offers animations, live shots, and more.
  • It supports graphical components, logos, and infographics better than JPEG, which has restrictions.
  • It performs better than JPEG in terms of lossless compression.
  • It has a color depth of twelve bits, allowing for high dynamic range (HDR) and wide color gamut (WCG) photos with a wider variety of bright and dark tones and luminosity.
  • Monochrome and multichannel photos, as well as translucent images using the alpha channel, are supported.

Limitations of AVIF

AVIF’s biggest flaw right now is that it doesn’t have consistent support across browsers although using AVIF as a progressive enhancement can help with this issue. As the codec is growing and competing with other codecs in the market it will definitely have support for all browsers in the near future. There are a few other areas where AVIF falls short of ideal standards for a modern file format.

  • Chrome 94 and later versions support AVIF progressive rendering, although older versions do not. While there isn't an encoder that can easily create these images at the time of writing, there is optimism that this will change.
  • Encoding and creating AVIF images takes longer. For sites that generate image files dynamically, this could be a problem. The AVIF team is working consistently on this issue and aiming to improve encoding speeds in near future.
  • Decoding AVIF images for display can likewise consume more CPU resources than other codecs, while reduced file sizes may compensate.
  • Because it is still slower to create on the initial request, some CDNs do not yet support AVIF by default for their automatic format modes.

Current State of The Format

AVIF, despite its greater compression efficiency, is still in its early phase of development. AVIF images can be created and processed using a variety of tools. The Alliance for Open Media is working on libavif, an open-source library that can encode and decode AVIF images.

The purpose of this library is to make image community software integration easier. Integration has already begun in a number of browsers, including Google Chrome, and we foresee widespread support for AVIF images in the near future.

For years to come, the web will be a speedier and more streamlined experience as internet connections continue to improve and resources get smaller.

AVIF is a game-changer that will quickly become the de facto image format around the world. It is expected that it will soon get complete support across all platforms due to its potential features.

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