Move over JPEG, there’s a new image file format in town that wants to be king. Powered by the latest media compression techniques, AVIF is making its way into browsers, software, and operating systems. So what is it? Do you need to do something?
What is AVIF?
AVIF is an image file format developed by the Alliance for Open Media that can be used by anyone. You can store both still and animated images with the “.avif” file extension, using lossless or lossy compression.
AVIF stands for AV1 Image File Format due to its use of AV1 compression. It is widely seen as a replacement for HEIC (High Efficiency Image Container), which uses HEVC (High Efficiency Video Coding) instead of the newer AV1.
In case you’re confused: AV1 compression will eventually replace the old HEVC standard. Since the old HEIC container is based on HEVC, AVIF has been introduced as a new image format that uses the newer AV1 compression.
Applications for AVIF
AVIF supports high dynamic range (HDR) and standard dynamic range (SDR) content, including the commonly used sRGB and BT.2020 color spaces. It supports 8-, 10-, and 12-bit color depths, film grain preservation, transparency as PNG images, and animations as GIF.
The new image format features better image quality than JPEG and smaller file sizes, with fewer compression artifacts and less image blocking. What does all that mean? AVIF is expected to help save data for both content consumers and web servers serving content.
AVIF support has already been built into Google Chrome (version 85), Mozilla Firefox (version 93), and updated versions of the WebKit engine that powers Safari. Apple has yet to incorporate the AVIF-compliant version of WebKit into the public release of Safari, but Technology Preview 149 does have AVIF support. This indicates that the feature will come to iOS 16 and macOS 13 in the fall of 2022.
Many other programs already support AVIF, including image viewers like XnView, VLC media player, Paint.NET, and Adobe Illustrator, and operating systems including Windows 10 and later, Android 12 and later, and many Linux distributions. .
You don’t need to worry about AVIF
At the time of this writing, AVIF has not been widely adopted. There are no current plans to transition your smartphone images to AVIF (at this time) as there was with HEIC/HEVC. By the time AVIF is important, you’re probably already using it and don’t know anything about it.
Want to learn more? You can try the new format and convert images in avif.io, although you will need an AV1 compatible browser. If you love reading about file formats and compressions, check out our common image file format comparison, an explanation on Google’s WebP, and find out why HEVC (H.265) is so important for modern web video.