HEIF or High-Efficiency Image Format is the new format that Apple is going all in on for their devices and products from the release of iOS 11 onwards (any day now). It will replace JPEGS as the standard format for iPhones (which happen to be the most used cameras in the world).
Of course, any changes like this tend to cause panic amongst those used to doing things a certain way so we will take a moment to explain what HEIF is and how it will (or won’t) affect you.
What is it?
HEIF is actually the still image form of the H.265 video format that is now a go-to standard. The biggest advantage to you and me is that a HEIF file will take up roughly half the space of an ordinary JPEG but will actually be higher quality in terms of clarity and colour reproduction. This will mean you will free up a huge amount of space on your iPhone, as it is generally photographs that take up the majority of space on our devices these days, this is particularly useful for those who opted for a 16gb iPhone (I couldn’t cope!).
JPEG (Joint Photographic Expert Group) has been around for a very long time and significant advances have been made in imaging technology so it seems only right that it should now be replaced with a superior and more efficient format.
So other than space what else can this new format do?
The efficiency of HEIF means that it should also be less taxing on your device’s processor and ultimately the battery too. Encoding of the format is hardware accelerated on Apple devices.
The other point is rather than being just a file type, a HEIF is actually a container. What this means is that it can be more than just a simple image. It can be a collection of images and include sound. If that sounds familiar it should, Apple’s Live Photo feature has these elements and this is partly why Apple are choosing this format as it allows them to experiment with photography on their phones with greater flexibility. It can also handle transparency like a GIF file.
The only way is up! Right?
There are no downsides I can think of in using HEIF over JPEG. Currently, JPEG is king in the world of photography. Apple has made it clear that when using HEIF in iOS 11 – you won’t notice any difference in what you do. The images are taken in HEIF but when you need to send them to someone or upload them somewhere they are dynamically converted to JPEG to ensure complete compatibility.
So you don’t need to worry about converting anything or incompatibility. Basically, until the rest of the world catches up and switches over, you will benefit from extra space and speed. When the world (and indeed the web) switches over to this format browsing websites will be much faster and that can only a good thing.