19 Aug 2021
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What is the AV1 / AVIF image and video format
One of the new exciting image formats that have come to our attention is AV1 / AVIF and in this article we will talk about it and why we think You should add it to your website.
AV1 or AVIF is basically a super version of a compressed image that can either be lossy or lossless and its compressed file size is much smaller than JPG, PNG and it is even smaller than the relatively new image format WEBP. AVIF allows the use of either 8, 10 and 12 bit colour depths and you can use it for both images and videos. Because we can use it for both images and videos it opens up to a whole world of possible integrations and we have already seen AV1 support integrated into larger TVs from both LG and Samsung.
To put it into perspective: A WEBP compressed image will be about 30% smaller than a JPG image, but a AV1 / AVIF image will be about 60% smaller after being compressed.
The AV1 / AVIF format was developed by the Alliance for open media in collaboration with Google, Cisco and Xiph.org. The image format was built as an open source and royalty-free format unlike most other available image formats.
Why add AV1 /AVIF images and videos?
Our internet speeds are getting faster and the same with our CPU’s and because of that it can be hard to see why we should spend time converting images and videos to the new AV1 or AVIF image and video format. But converting our media files to a smaller file size is actually very important.
The internet is a huge polluter and it is no secret. Not many people realise how much carbon dioxide we let out into our atmosphere every time we visit a website or watch a movie on Netflix, but if you saw the numbers it would shock you. Truth is that if the internet was a country it would be the sixth worst polluter in the world and it is unlikely to go the other way. We use the internet for more things and over the next 20 years we will find even more ways to connect the world together, but having a growing problem that only gets worse is not the way forward. You see, as our speeds gets faster and as our CPU’s gets faster we develop more demanding websites when we should actually be doing the opposite. If we instead create sustainable websites with highly compressed images and videos, we would make the internet less polluting and also much more accessible to people in areas with low bandwidth (Believe it or not, there are still many areas with only 2G or 3G connection).
So by converting all your images and videos to the new AV1 / AVIF format you can help lowering the amount of data being downloaded every time someone visits your website. This will result in much faster loading speeds, less pollution and also a more accessible website in areas with slow bandwidth.
General and browser support
AV1 / AVIF is a new format, but already in 2018 it had earlier adopters such as Netflix which converted their images to the new format. The converted images was displayed on Netflix’s start page to those browsers and devices that supported it.
In 2020 LG and Samsung came out with their 8K TVs and when reading the specifications you can see that they already back then supported the AV1 format. Also VLC player supports the new format and since August 26 2020 Google Chrome supported the format. Later in January 2021 Firefox added support, but you will still have to activate it in your browser through the settings.
We believe that the AV1 / AVIF has come to stay and that we in the future will see much more browsers and devices supporting this format. We demand content in bigger and better quality, but these sizes cause bigger file sizes and the way we can get around that is with great lossless compression. Therefore we might see this format being used for videos on Netflix, YouTube and other video services in the future and hopefully also on a ton of websites.
On Can i use you can see the current browser support.
I am a self-taught and highly passionate web developer currently living in Sweden, where I use my skills to make the internet a better place through ethical and sustainable web design.