Guetzli by Google reduces the size of JPEG files, making image transfers quicker

If you’re into digital photography and hate the wait for transferring JPEG files, this announcement is for you. Google has introduced a new algorithm that will make it possible to reduce the size of JPEG images by about 35%, without reducing the quality.

That kind of improvement would be significantly useful. Speed matters on the Internet, and Google has been focused on improving web performance for years. In fact, several studies have shown a distinct correlation between website load times and how likely a user is to remain engaged.

‘Guetzli’, which means “cookie” in Swiss German, is what Google is calling its new algorithm. With this technological advancement, it will make navigating the web and transferring files much faster. Google explained that the algorithm arranges data that was previously disordered, so it is much easier to compress the file. The new compression produces a higher quality image than a typical JPEG. The only inconvenience with the new encoder is that this compression method will take a longer time. However, Google points out that in experiments, human raters preferred Guetzli images over traditional JPEGs. Therefore the longer compression process may be worth it.

Test zoom of a cat’s eye. The original image is on the left. Guetzli (on the right) produces a less pixelated result than the standard JPEG (in the centre) without the image size being larger.

Guetzli uses a new human visual processing system model called Butteraugli. According to Google, it does a better job in approximating colour perception and visual masking than other encoders. Virtually, Butteraugli mimics the way the human eyes perceives colours.

Google is releasing Guetzli as an open source project for anyone to check out and help improve. Read more about this new encoder here. You can also learn when to use a JPEG, GIF and PNG.