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Google's new algorithm shrinks JPEG files by 35 percent

Google's new algorithm shrinks JPEG files by 35 percent”

Google researchers have developed an algorithm dubbed Guetzli - which is apparently the Swiss-German word for "cookie" - which slashes file size while maintaining visual quality and compatibility with browsers by not altering the file format, unlike its previous effort at image compression, WebP. Google says that the use of its new encoder will cut down JPEG files by as much as 35 percent, which means it should take less time to download those images when they are placed on a web site.

The smaller images will enable web pages to load faster and use less data. "Guetzli strikes a balance between minimal loss and file size by employing a search algorithm that tries to overcome the difference between the psycho-visual modelling of JPEG's format, and Guetzli's psycho visual model, which approximates colour perception and visual masking in a more thorough and detailed way than what is achievable by simpler colour transforms and the discrete cosine transform".

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Images pushed through the Guetzli encoder are still available in a regular JPEG format, making them compatible with just about every application and browser now on the market.

Secondly, Guetzli would seem set to have a significant resource footprint compared to the long-established image compression libraries now in use (mostly over Apache or other Linux-based frameworks). That may seem like a deal-breaker but because of how well it performs in the quality department, Google feels the slower compression time is a worthy trade-off.

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Google is offering the Guetzli encoder as an open source software project for anyone to check out and possibly improve. And although Google compared Guetzli to mozjpeg and another JPEG encoder called libjpeg, there are other options, too. And the popularity and usage of JPEGs have led Google to experiment with the said format instead of building a new one from scratch.

Note how the Guetzli compression on the right is smoother but lacks some richer colors of the libjpeg compression in the center.

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After a round of testing by Cornell University using the Butteraugli image similarity metric, Google says that 75% of users preferred the Guetzli-based image compression, for like-sized image files. Last, we hope that the new explicitly psychovisual approach in Guetzli will inspire further image and video compression research.



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