Google snubbed JPEG XL so of course Apple now supports it in Safari

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Apple is now supporting JPEG XL – a caller royalty-free image codec that Google past twelvemonth controversially abandoned – successful its Safari browser.

The Safari 17 Beta Release Notes reveal that support for JPEG XL has been added, bringing pinch it various purported advantages complete different image compression and decompression technologies.

Apple's endorsement has renewed calls for Google to revisit its removal of JPEG XL support successful nan unfastened root Chromium task – a determination that denied nan codec to Chrome and to different downstream browsers for illustration Microsoft Edge.

"Now that Apple is going to instrumentality JPEG XL successful Safari, I inquire for this determination to beryllium reversed arsenic soon arsenic possible," wrote 1 individual among respective who person posted to nan JPEG XL Chromium rumor thread since nan Apple announcement.

Googlers are among those who antecedently extolled nan virtues of JPEG XL. In 2021, Jyrki Alakuijala, method lead astatine Google Research, suggested that support for nan codec beryllium added to Chromium's Blink rendering engine.

Alakuijala's connection cited various reasons to adopt JPEG XL – including amended image value for a fixed record size than JPEG, amended loading behavior, and "ecosystem liking successful JPEG XL" astatine Google, Facebook, and different companies.

Yet erstwhile Google reversed course, one of nan reasons cited was: "There is not capable liking from nan full ecosystem to proceed experimenting pinch JPEG XL."

There is not! There is, too!

While Mozilla has managed to declare its neutrality pinch respect to JPEG XL, there's ample grounds of ecosystem interest.

Jon Sneyers, elder image interrogator astatine Cloudinary and editor of nan JPEG XL spec, pushed backmost against Google's declare successful a web essay past November.

"If nan enthusiastic support successful nan Chromium bugtracker from Facebook, Adobe, Intel and VESA, Krita, The Guardian, libvips, Cloudinary, and Shopify is immoderate indication, it seems baffling to reason that location would beryllium insufficient ecosystem interest," he wrote.

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Greg Farough, campaigns head for nan Free Software Foundation, besides challenged that assertion successful a blog post past month.

"Chromium users came retired of nan woodwork to plead pinch Google not to make this decision," said Farough. "It made it anyway, not bothering to respond to users' concerns. We're not judge what metric it's utilizing to gauge nan liking of nan 'entire ecosystem,' but it seems users person fixed JPEG XL a beardown show of support. In turn, what users will beryllium fixed is yet different facet of nan web that Google itself controls: nan AVIF format."

AVIF is patent-encumbered. It's controlled by The Alliance for Open Media – an manufacture consortium that counts Google arsenic a member.

That's (arguably) not nan lawsuit for JPEG XL. "Unlike immoderate different modern formats, JPEG XL is not encumbered by patents nor does it require proprietary software," nan codec's archiving website explains. "The reference software, libjxl, has a permissive unfastened root licence and is simply a production-ready room that tin beryllium (and already has been) integrated into a assortment of image-related software."

Redmond looms

A patent granted to Microsoft past twelvemonth covering a data-encoding method called rANS (range Asymmetric Number System) could complicate nan picture.

Sneyers told The Register he doesn't judge nan Microsoft patent is relevant.

But others, specified arsenic Jarosław Duda, adjunct professor astatine Institute of Computer Science astatine Jagiellonian University successful Poland and developer of ANS (from which rANS is derived), person expressed interest because JPEG XL uses rANS to amended image compression.

When The Register corresponded pinch Duda past October, he cited an online chat post arguing Google’s determination to driblet support for JPEG XL was driven by engineers who favored AVIF technology, and represents unfair title that needs to beryllium addressed by regulators.

"Those decisions by Google engineers, who person a vested liking successful nan competing standards of AVIF and WebP succeeding, stifle their JPEG XL title by removing support for nan JPEG XL codec and past beforehand a Google exertion monopoly by lying astir nan organization liking successful JPEG XL and nan incremental benefits that JPEG XL offers,” nan station said. “That’s antitrust."

The station based on that Google’s dismissal of JPEG XL shows that nan tech elephantine should beryllium forced to move complete power of nan unfastened root Chromium task to neutral governance."

For its part, Google appears to beryllium hedging its bets: a separate entry successful nan Chromium bug locator calls for continued testing of JPEG XL libraries to guarantee JPEG XL support tin beryllium revived successful Chrome astatine immoderate time. ®