Apple’s Safari browser included in macOS Sierra and iOS 10 is testing WebP, which is Google’s technology for getting webpages to load quickly. As the WebP was built into Chrome in 2013 at build 32, it is not unproven.
WebP is also used by Facebook due to its image compression underpinnings. The technology is also used across many Google properties, including YouTube. The only holdout for WebP is Microsoft, which never included it in Internet Explorer and has no plans to work it into Edge, according to CNET.
Facebook embraced WebP after it found that the images are 25% to 35% smaller than a JPEGs, which is the most common format. Google uses WebP extensively, and its YouTube web page loads 10% quicker by using WebP thumbnails. Smaller file sizes use less data, so they help users stop bumping against their monthly limits on mobile phone data use.
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Data compression technology figures in the satirical TV show Silicon Valley as the business idea behind the startup Pied Piper, but it is quite essential in the real world as well. Also Dropbox developed Lepton, its own image compression format, to store data more cost-effectively.
WebP offers transparency and is good for pictures. Also animated WebP images are dramatically smaller than animated GIF images.
Will Apple embrace this tech?
WebP may not make it into the final version of Safari as both macOS Sierra and iOS 10 are in beta. However, Apple would be turning away a tried and true technology, which is hard to imagine as the tech is found in the popular browser Chrome, which is favored over Safari by many due to its speed, where WebP plays an important part. Currently Apple’s Safari is the second most popular browser after Chrome.
In the logs for Apple’s Safari tech preview, WebP is not mentioned. This could indicate that macOS and iOS are just a little ahead of the curve there, or the Cupertino-based smartphone maker is just testing WebP in beta software. It may not be something the smartphone maker feels should be included in the beta version of Safari, which is positioned for Web developers.
If Apple chooses to enable WebP, then users of Safari and ultimately others could see some websites load faster. Expect a future version of Safari to be lightening quick at loading pages if Safari can make good use of WebP. However, adding new ad formats is not an easy decision for browser makers as doing so adds to complexity and potential security problems.