Loading up a web page quickly takes more than having a fast internet connection at home or on the road. Other factors can also be involved, such as the speed of the server the site is hosted on, the code that’s used to make and design the page and the file sizes for any images that are used in the site. It’s that last factor that Google wants to help improve, thanks to a new algorithm it has developed called Guetzli.
In a blog post, Google said that Guetzli, which is “cookie” in Swiss German, is a JPEG encoder for web sites that it claims will create smaller overall files while still remaining compatible with current web sites, any image processing applications and the JPEG standard. Google says that the use of its new encoder will cut down JPEG files by as much as 35 percent, which means it should take less time to download those images when they are placed on a web site.
The company says that the Guetzli encoder is able to reduce JPEG file sizes by such a large amount without sacrificing a lot of image quality by using a search algorithm. This code is supposed to close the difference between the standard JPEG psychovisual modeling and the one that’s used by Guetzli. Google says this method “approximates color perception and visual masking in a more thorough and detailed way.”
There is, as always, a catch to using this new encoder. Google says the Guetzli search algorithm does take much longer to create the compressed and smaller JPEG images compared to other methods like the popular libjpeg encoder. However, Google said that images that use Guetzli are preferred visually over images that use libjpeg-based compression. You can see an example of that in the image above, with the original uncompressed image on the left, the same one with the libjpeg encoder in the center, and one that used Guetzli on the right.
Google is offering the Guetzli encoder as an open source software project for anyone to check out and possibly improve. It hopes that web site designers will use this new tool to cut down on image file sizes and thus improve load times on their sites, especially on mobile browsers. It’s always good to know that Google is trying to help make the web a faster place to check out content.