Google Abandons JPEG-XL


Google Abandons the JPEG-XL Next-Gen Image Format, But is WebP 2 Next?

JPEG-XL, the royalty-free image format promising superior performance over JPEG, faced a surprising setback with Google Chrome announcing its deprecation from version 110 onwards. Despite the format's young age and growing industry interest, this move has sparked questions and concerns about the future of image formats and open standards, especially considering Google's additional decision to abandon WebP 2, another potential next-generation format.

JPEG-XL's Journey and Demise:

  • 2020: JPEG-XL's bitstream is frozen.
  • 2021: The format itself is standardized.
  • 2022: Coding system finalized.
  • 2023: Chrome offers experimental JPEG-XL support (behind a flag).
  • 2024: Google announces deprecation in Chrome 110.

Google's Reasons for Deprecating JPEG-XL:

  • Limited ecosystem adoption: Google cites a lack of wider interest, suggesting limited future potential.
  • Incremental benefits not enough: They argue JPEG-XL doesn't offer significant enough advantages over existing formats.
  • Maintenance burden and focus shift: Removing the code frees resources for improving established formats like WebP and AVIF.

Critics Counter:

  • JPEG-XL still young and gaining traction: Some argue Google's decision is premature.
  • Limited browser support hampered adoption: Chrome's initial approach might have played a role.
  • Concerns about WebP competition: Google's past promotion of WebP raises questions about their motives.

JPEG XL: Controversy over Exclusion

A discussion on the Chromium issue tracker revolves around the removal of JPEG XL support from Chrome. Despite its advantages in compression, animation, and HDR capabilities, the Chromium team cites lack of ecosystem interest and insufficient benefits compared to existing formats. This decision sparked criticism from users and developers who believe JPEG XL holds potential for improving the web experience. See the discussion.

JPEG XL offers better compression, animation and HDR support, and progressive decoding. The removal of JPEG XL support from Chrome has been controversial, with many arguing that it could significantly enhance the web experience.

The Push for JPEG XL Inclusion

A bug report advocating for adding JPEG XL support to Chrome highlights its improved compression, new features, and potential performance gains. It also emphasizes the growing ecosystem interest in the format. Unfortunately, this request was marked "Won't Fix," echoing the reasons behind its exclusion from Chrome. Bug report details.

The request for JPEG XL support in Chrome detailed the format's benefits, including improved compression and new features, alongside growing ecosystem interest. However, it was ultimately rejected by the Chromium team.

The WebP 2 Twist:

Adding to the confusion, Google also announced the abandonment of WebP 2, their planned next-generation format. This shift points towards refocusing on improving existing formats like WebP and AVIF, further complicating the future of next-generation image formats.

"WebP 2 is an experimental image codec based on WebP. WebP 2 will not be released as an image format but is used as a playground for image compression experiments." Yannis Guyon - google

An update to the WebP 2 project details its goals of achieving better compression, particularly at low bitrates, while offering features like lossless compression and enhanced transparency handling. However, this format remains experimental and now not intended for immediate widespread adoption.

WebP 2 is an experimental image codec based on WebP, not intended for general use. The format aims to achieve better compression than WebP, focusing on lossy compression and improved visual quality at very low bitrates. It supports features such as lossless compression, improved transparency compression, and progressive decoding.

Uncertain Future and Open Questions:

  • Increased industry involvement and wider browser support could revive JPEG-XL.
  • Clearer explanations from Google regarding their long-term vision for open standards are crucial.

The Delicate Ecosystem of Image Formats:

This situation highlights the intricate world of image format development, where industry support, open standards, and competition play crucial roles in determining the winners and losers. Only time will tell if JPEG-XL can overcome these challenges or if other contenders will emerge in the race for the next-generation image format.