Will JPEG-XL be the JPEG replacement we’ve been waiting 30 years for?

The JPEG standard we all use today is old. Really old.

The reason we still use it, of course, is because software patents have made it dangerous to try replacing it with anything else, even though it’s comically inefficient and poorly designed.

The standard caught on, all software supports it, the patents are dead.

Like most obsolete technologies, everyone agrees in principle that JPEG should be replaced with something better, but that’s been very hard to do, mainly because of obstacles such as Apple and Microsoft, who have tried creating their own replacements and then threatening to sue anyone who supports them.

I ran into this problem with photos from my spouses iPhone in the HEIC format, and blogged about it, and had to go get a HEIC library with conversion tools out of RPM Fusion and convert them to PNG for print upload, because the patents for HEIC are from HEVC and as such are not fit for inclusion into Fedora GNU/Linux.

However, when I was skimming the Pale Moon development repository, I noticed a mention of adding “JPEG-XL” support, and it seems most browsers are doing this now.

JPEG-XL is said to be a royalty-free “improved JPEG”, and this time Google’s giving it a go. Compression efficiency is said to be “at least 60% better” than JPEG. The reference software is available under a simple 3-clause BSD license. Which is good. Anything that promotes rapid uptake of a royalty-free file interchange format is good.

Of course, in some ways, Google’s ability to dictate standards may have some minor positive benefits. For example, if Mozilla and Chromium adopt JPEG-XL, then regardless of what Apple finally decides, nearly 9 in 10 Web and smartphone users will have JPEG-XL support.

Hopefully, these One Hour Photo centers are quick to support it after it lands in Android.

At this point I’m in favor of anything that’s a big improvement over JPEG that kills HEIC and which we in the Free World can open and use without going through some ridiculous process that involves restricted software and waiting on command lines to re-encode files that should already work, damn it.

The entire point of HEIC/HEVC is to be a huge licensing trap with like 2,752,524,525 patents that you have to go to ~4,732 places to license, so there’s fat chance that Walmart will ever accept prints.

How are iPhone customers handling this mess?

If I did switch to an iPhone, I’d just have two annoying manipulative pieces of shit in this house outputting files that literally nobody uses or can even open. Oy vey!

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