Google is working on several big web technology projects, from networking stuff such as SPDY to video codecs. One of the lesser known but very interesting projects is WebP, a new image format that has some very interesting characteristics.
It generates images smaller than JPEGs, at the same quality, but also supports lossless compression and even transparency, giving PNGs a run for their money. It also does animation, the only thing the otherwise very limited GIF format has going for it.
But just being much better is no guarantee that anyone will use WebP, the popularity of a format has more to do with how well it's supported and how much it's promoted than with its technical characteristics.
So it's good to hear that Google is at least making some inroad into expanding the reach of WebP, by now using the format on its Chrome Web Store.
The site has the big advantage that it's aimed almost exclusively at Chrome users and Chrome supports WebP, one of the few browsers that do.
Google explains that the conversion, from PNGs and JPEGs to WebP resulted in significant image size reductions. On average, images encoded with WebP in the Chrome Web Store are 30 percent smaller than the same images in PNG or JPEG.
"Given the number of requests Chrome Web Store serves, this adds up to several terabytes of savings every day," Google boasts.
"For users, the rubber meets the road when it comes to how fast the page loads though. On this score, with WebP we were able to reduce average home page load time by nearly one-third — a huge benefit for our users," it adds.
While most people visiting the Chrome Web Store use Chrome, some don't, so the site first checks to see what browser is being used and serves the appropriate images.