Google Wants to Make Your Images Take Up Less Space

Google Wants to Make Your Images Take Up Less Space

Google Wants to Make Your Images Take Up Less Space

Guetzli manages to significantly reduce file size without breaking compatibility with the JPEG standard, web browsers, and image processing applications.

This algorithm is basically an encoder which creates JPEG files of size 35% smaller than other image file creation methods. With smaller JPEG files, you'll not only be able to store more pictures (and most importantly: selfies) on your phone and computer, but websites that use Guetzli-encoded JPEGs would also (at least, in theory) load faster.

Google has named the new encoder Guetzli, the Swiss German term for cookie. This sets the algorithm apart from other methods of reducing JPEG file sizes, like RNN-based image compression, RAISR, and WebP.

"...we additionally found that in experiments where compressed image file sizes are kept constant that human raters consistently preferred the images Guetzli produced over libjpeg images, even when the libjpeg files were the same size or even slightly larger", said Google.

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For Google's Guetzli speed boost, researchers developed a test called Butteraugli created to model human vision. The result is more detail with smaller file sizes, at a cost of substantially higher resource utilization at compression time.

The prize may be worth the effort: JPEG, long since the victor the image format wars of the late 1990s, now joins PNG in accounting for 73% of all content in websites - petabytes of data on a rolling basis, largely using technologies and standards which have not changed in almost twenty years. Guetzli works by producing multiple candidates of compressed JPEGs and then comparing them to see which is best. For example, a multi-megabyte image stored in BMP or PNG format can look nearly exactly the same converted to a JPEG that's only a few hundred kilobytes in size.

Google is offering the Guetzli encoder as an open source software project for anyone to check out and possibly improve.

However, it's worth noting that Guetzli is slower than other options out there. The only tradeoff: Guetzli takes a little longer to run than compression options like libjpeg. "Although Guetzli may be too slow for many practical uses, we hope that it can show direction for future image format design", the researchers said.

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