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WebP Now Natively Supported in ‘Opera, Chrome, Picasa, GMail’ with Improved Compression Algorithms and Other Slew of New Features

WebP, a new image format based on WebM technology and the VP8 codec, today received new features and expanded support for WebP:

“WebP is now natively supported in Chrome and Opera. Google products including GMail and Picasa Web Albums, have also added support to WebP so you can share, send and receive WebP images. WebP support is coming to AppEngine. In addition, Google Instant Previews now store images in WebP to reduce their storage needs,” Google informed.

New features:

“WebP’s compression algorithms have been significantly improved while remaining completely compatible with the previous releases. On the decoding side, we’ve integrated a fancy upsampler. Fancy upsampling reduces the pixelation of strong edges. You can see this feature when you zoom in, for example on a WebP image with red edges converted from this PNG original,” Google explained:

Also introduced the ability to incrementally decode the data as your computer downloads it from the web, a feature that allows the browser to display images without having to wait for the whole file to download. This feature is already enabled in Chrome 12.

“On the encoding side, to further improve quality, we focused on segmenting the picture into areas with similar compressibility. For each of these segments, we tune the amount of compression and filtering differently, and bits are redistributed where they’re most useful.” Take for instance the image reproduced below [1]:

“We’ve added simple encoding and decoding example binaries to the libwebp library. In addition, we’ve added JNI support that allows Java programs to decode WebP images. Next up is transparency, also known as Alpha channel; we’re experimenting with it now and planning to add it to the next stable version of the codec. In parallel, we continue to improve the codec’s speed and will release a complete specification for the metadata format.”

Users that want to manipulate WebP images can now do so using software developed by the community including Pixelmator, ImageMagick, the WebP format plugin for Photoshop and the Java VP8 decoder. The open-source community has also contributed support for Mac OS X with MacPorts packages, Linux Debian, OpenSUSE and Gentoo packages and the Apache HTTP Server. On Windows, users who want to view WebP images natively, can download the WebP codec. This codec brings WebP support to such software as Office 2010, Windows Media Center and Photo Edit.

[Source: Chromium blog]

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