Bob Fairbairn

Apple iPhone Photography: Deprecating the JPEG

This week at the MYSCAU iOS Special Interest Group we started a discussion about the underlying technologies in image processing and management from Apple. This is the first in a short series of posts extending our discussion on Apple technology behind the shutter.

Apple has started using new standards for photographing images and videos. These new file types are meant to modernize the system for higher performance and to reduce sizes of files. This is not only for still images but also for movie recordings.

The new still image format is HEIF (High Efficiency Image Format) which are store in HEIC (High Efficiency Image Container) which is used to store the HEIF images. The HEIC file can store more that a single image at a time.

For video there is the HEVC (High Efficiency Video Coding) format the delivers improved compression and more. This CODEC helps keep file sizes down which allow for better streaming efficiency and of course storage space savings. As in all things there penalty to pay and that is in computing power. Encoding and decoding HEVC / H.265 files requires much more computing power. Finally note that Apple stores this new file format in .MOV (movie) files.

One of the big questions was are the images better. From my view they have been. This is a rather complex topic and it is being covered all over the internet (not very well in many places). The following article has some nice image comparisons:

What does this mean for the person using a iPhone or iPad that is running IOS 11? As is always true “that depends”. If you are living the iOS only lifestyle Apple takes care of translating to most compatible formats when needed! If you to things like sync photos to other devices, etc. then there are side effects from using these new file formats.

Note for discussion at a later time: The Apple Camera app stored to JPEG before the iOS 11 update even though Apple has has the tools in the OS to record RAW images to a DNG file type since iOS 10.

I will continue this in another blog post shortly.