Google explains why it’s removing JPEG-XL support from Chrome

Follow up yesterday’s article about Google Chrome is preparing to stop the JPEG-XL image formatNow, a Google engineer has given their reasons for dropping the next-generation image format.

As noted yesterday, there is a patch pending for Google Chrome/Chromium to stop support for the still-experienced JPEG-XL image format (behind the feature tag) from their web browser. The patch indicates that Chrome 110 and later ignore support for JPEG-XL images.

No reason has been given for this deprecation, which is odd considering that JPEG-XL is still very young in its life cycle and is receiving increasing interest and support from the industry. Now this evening is a comment from a Google engineer on Chromium JPEG-XL Tracker With their stated reasons:

Thank you all for your comments and feedback regarding JPEG XL. We will be removing the JPEG XL icon and tag from Chromium for the following reasons:

– Experimental signs and symbols must not remain indefinitely
– There is not enough interest from the entire ecosystem to continue the JPEG XL experience
– The new image format does not bring enough additional benefits over existing formats to ensure they are enabled by default
By removing the flag and icon in the M110, it reduces the maintenance load and allows us to focus on improving existing layouts in Chrome”

Google’s finding “there isn’t enough interest from the entire ecosystem” about JPEG-XL is surprising given that the bitstream was only frozen in late 2020 and the file format standardized last year and the encoding system since earlier this year. While JPEG-XL is available with Chrome, it’s turned off by default behind the feature flag, and until browser support matures (or matures), web developers are clearly not pushing hard on JPEG-XL. The libjxl tools also remain in a pre-1.0 state.

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A few Phoronix readers wrote in following up on yesterday’s article to point out that Google is now too Do not follow WebP 2 as a released image format. Instead, their WebP 2 effort is to “use it as a playground for image compression experiments”.

So going forward with JPEG-XL support to remove it from Chrome and WebP 2 which is not pursued as a released image format per se, it looks like Google will eventually focus on developing WebP and AVIF for next-generation images.

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