UPDATED 09:11 EST / NOVEMBER 14 2018


Google introduces Squoosh for Chrome to help create faster web pages

Google Chrome Labs has released an open-source web-based image editing app with a silly name, Squoosh, but a very significant purpose: It shows off how images can load faster using Google’s WebP image container format.

A lot faster, in fact: WebP can typically get up to 30 percent more compression than the popular JPEG image standard, with the same quality.

The announcement came from the two-day Chrome Dev Summit 2018 that started Monday. Researchers from Google LLC took the stage to talk about numerous additions to the Chrome web browser designed to make developers’ jobs easier.

With Squoosh, developers can drag and drop any image onto its surface – which runs inside a web browser – and then select image format, resize the image, set display quality and reduce the color palette. The app then permits a side-by-side comparison between the optimized version of the image and the original, or other formats. Image formats that can be selected include Google’s WebP, Mozilla’s mozjpeg, BMP, JPEG, GIF, TIFF, JPEG 2000 and PDF — all commonly used by web designers.

Google introduced the WebP image format in 2010 under an open-source license. The format is what is known as a “lossy compressed format,” which means that when images are compressed, they degrade in quality. That allows the compression algorithm to create a much smaller image than otherwise possible.

This is the same way the extremely popular JPEG format reduces image sizes. According to a report posted on the W3Techs website, more than 73 percent of all web pages use JPEG images. WebP was released as a replacement for JPEG’s lossy format because it can create smaller files with less drop in quality.

Until recently, Chrome was the only browser that supported the WebP standard. However, the format has seen a boost in adoption with its addition to Microsoft Edge with build number 17763 in October. Support for the format also comes with Opera for iOS but is still in development for Mozilla Corp.’s Firefox and Apple Inc.’s Safari.

According to the statistics website Statista, Google Chrome represents 67 percent of the desktop browser market share as of July 2018. The addition of Microsoft Edge adds 7 percent more users capable of viewing the format. Firefox will bring an approximately 11 percent wider audience when it adds support.

Squoosh is powered by Progressive Web Application technology, web-based app design with rich user-experience functions similar to native apps, and it can also run in any browser across desktop or mobile.

As a result, Chrome OS and Windows 10 platforms alike with the latest version of Chrome can use Squoosh just like a native app running out of a web browser, meaning that smartphones, tablets, Chromebooks and Windows netbooks can use it and other apps of its type. The app will also benefit from an expansion of support for PWAs also announced at the Chrome Dev Summit.

“Chrome OS has given us a fantastic surface to really push the boundaries of the web, and based on these learnings we are expanding our Desktop PWA support across Chrome for Windows and Linux, with Mac support targeted to land in Chrome 72,” Ben Galbraith, senior director of product at Google, and Dion Almaer, director of engineering at Google, wrote on the Chromium blog.

The Google Chrome team has been working for the past six months to prepare WebP, PWA support and other enhancements for prime time. This means apps such as Squoosh are only the vanguard of what Chrome will be capable of once Chrome 72 hits the market, slated for a release in January.

Image: Google

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