HEIF Image Container Format Leverages H.265/HEVC to Store Photos and Image Sequences

A few years ago, Google introduced WebP image format leveraging VP8 video codec, and the Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG) has decided to do something similar but instead of using VP8, they went with their own H.265/HEVC video codec for HEIF image container format.

HEIF stands for High Efficiency Image File, and is defined by ISO/IEC 23008-12 (MPEG-H Part 12). The storage of the data is based on ISO Base Media File Format (ISOBMFF), and HEIF appears to be especially useful to replace animated GIFs file with better quality and much lower sizes, as well as burst photos.

HEIF vs Animated GIF – Click here to see the animations in action

HEIF also appears to compress a little better than JPEG photo with similar quality, but HEIF appears to fallback to JPEG codec sometimes, so it may be improvement in the way metadata is handled? The comparison table show the different features between HEIF and other well-known image format (JEG, WebP, GIF, etc…). Source: Nokiatech Github.io page.

.heic JPEG/Exif PNG GIF (89a) WebP JPEG-XR / TIFF JPEG-XR / JPX BPG
Formats and extensibility
Base container file format ISOBMFF TIFF RIFF TIFF
Lossy compression Yes (HEVC) Yes (JPEG) No No Yes (VP8) Yes Yes Yes (HEVC)
Lossless compression Yes (HEVC) Yes (TIFF Rev 6.0) Yes (PNG) Yes (GIF) Yes (VP8L) Yes Yes Yes (HEVC)
Extensible to other coding formats Yes Yes No No No Yes Yes No
Metadata format (on top of internal) Exif, XMP, MPEG-7 Exif Exif, XMP Exif, XMP JPX, (XMP) Exif, XMP
Extensible to other metadata formats Yes No No No No No Yes (XML-based) Yes
Other media types (audio, text, etc.) Yes Audio No No No No Yes No
Multi-picture features
Multiple images in the same file Yes No No Yes Yes No Yes Yes
Image sequences / animations Yes No No Yes Yes No Yes Yes
Image coding Yes No No No No No No Yes
Derived images
Multiple-of-90-degree rotations Yes Yes No No No Yes Yes No
Cropping Yes No No No No No Yes No
Tiling/overlaying Yes No No No Yes No Yes No
Extensible to other editing operations Yes No No No No No No No
Auxiliary picture information
Transparency (alpha plane) Yes No Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Thumbnail image Yes Yes No No No Yes Yes Yes

I had no idea you could embed audio into JPEG files until today.

HEIF files normally use .heic or .heif extension, and support has been implemented in macOS High Sierra and iOS 11, and it’s coming to Android P and Windows 10 Build 17123. Nokia has also released an open source JavaScript HEIF writer/reader with the code available on Github.

Via Liliputing

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