Google's New Encoder Reduces The Size Of JPEGs Without Losing Quality

Good news for the world of digital photography – Google has announced the arrival of a new open source encoder called Guetzli, which means "cookie" in Swiss German. The new algorithm will make it possible to reduce the size of JPEG images by about 35% without reducing the quality.


(Source: Biel Morro)

By making our image files smaller, this technological advancement will make navigating the web and transferring files much faster. In the past, photography sites were often slow to load due the large size of high quality image files, so the new encoder will make the lives of artists and professional photographers much easier.

In a press release on Thursday, Google explained in detail how the encoder works. The non-technical explanation is that the algorithm "arranges" data that was previously disordered, making it easier to compress the file. The new means of compression produces a higher quality image than a typical JPEG. Google illustrates the difference below:

20x24 pixels zones zoom de l'oeil d'un chat. Uncompressed original sur la gauche. Guetzli (à droite) Affiche moins de sonneries que libjpeg (milieu) sans nécessiter une taille de fichier plus importante.

Test zoom of a cat's eye. The original image is on the left. Guetzli (on the right) produces a less pixelated result than the standard JPEG (in the center) without the image size being larger. (Source: Google)

The only inconvenience with the new encoder is that the compression takes longer, but Google points out that in experiments, human raters consistently preferred Guetzli images over traditional JPEGs, so they believe the slow compression time is worth the wait.

We'll see if the new encoder will become part of our daily lives, but one thing is sure – file size is going to be a major issue in coming years, so we're glad Google is on it.

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