When you thought the VHS & Beta war had been settled, in came a new format. What? Once upon a time, there was a video cassette battle, with the VHS format developed by JVC getting the nod as the accepted and supported format. The competing format - Betamax by Sony, which many said had better fidelity, slowly faded into obscurity - with the odd hold outs clenching the few beta cassettes and recorders they owned. In a parallel universe, is the image format war happening right now on the web.
We've been using and holding onto a small handful of formats for several years - GIFs, JPEGs and PNGs - for just about 75 years combined at the time of writing. That's a long time.
But in 2010, Google introduced the WebP format which now in 2017 has achieved a level of importance by allowing for smaller file sizes, as well as Blink's massive market share (Chrome, Opera, Samsung Internet, Vivaldi), and the idea that Firefox is soon to ship support. A conversation with a Chrome PM earlier this year revealed that Google senses WebP can be the PNG's replacement - feature for feature. So it's no surprise that they now are working on an experimental format called Pik - though not claiming ownership - which is being proposed as the JPEG's replacement. This is the 2nd format to claim to be ripe to supplant the JPEG and it's scintillating career as a image workhorse. Earlier this year, Apple announced their adoption of the HEIF format, to do just the same.
Pik is positioned as a lossy format (like the JPEG), with some of the JPEG specs that we know - like 8x8 Discrete Cosign Transform processing, but aim to add some more modern compression and prediction to the fray. As with anything relating to improvements, there may be some associated costs:
- Google will aim for similar decoding speeds.
- add much better compression, in the order of 55%
But this is why Pik is still in alpha phase I gather. You can read some more details here.