UPDATE June 22
The Files & Photos app on iOS 16 supports AVIF images. The information page indicates that AVIF is supported. However, when the image is imported into the photos library, the format is changed to HEIF. While trying to open an image in Safari, it does not display and instead asks to be downloaded.
WebKit already supports AVIF. However, Safari relies on the underlying operating system for decoding and therefore had to wait for iOS to support AVIF. Safari will likely add support for AVIF within the subsequent two releases, now that iOS is no longer blocking AVIF.
Exploring AVIF: A Promising Image Format
The Alliance for Open Media (AOMedia) has developed a groundbreaking image format called AVIF (AV1 Image File Format). AVIF offers a significant improvement in image compression, reducing file sizes by up to 50% compared to JPEG while maintaining the same image quality. Additionally, unlike most other formats, AVIF supports both lossy and lossless compression, providing a versatile and efficient solution for web developers. With powerhouse companies such as Google, Facebook, Apple, and Microsoft backing AOMedia, AVIF is poised to revolutionize the way images are used and distributed across the internet.
iOS: Apple's Universe of Devices and Platforms
iOS is Apple's widely popular and exclusive mobile operating system that powers iPhones, iPads, and iPod Touch devices. With its close integration of apps, services, and devices, iOS is an integral player in the ever-expanding Apple Ecosystem. Ever since its inception in 2007 alongside the first iPhone, iOS has come a long way, evolving into a seamless experience for users across multiple platforms like macOS, WatchOS, and Apple TV.
AVIF Adoption: Safari's Reliance on iOS
One major aspect currently missing from the iOS experience is native support for AVIF images. Apple's preferred image format is the High-Efficiency Image File Format (HEIC), which offers some impressive compression and quality benefits but lacks the versatility and potential that AVIF brings to the table.
What does this mean for iOS users? With the absence of AVIF support, web browsing on Apple devices becomes limited, particularly since Safari, Apple's native browser, is unable to display AVIF images. Safari's reliance on iOS' underlying decoding system makes AVIF support impossible until iOS itself implements support for this new image format.
However, all hope is not lost for iOS users who want to access the world of AVIF. Third-party web browsers, such as Chrome, Firefox, and Opera Mobile, can display AVIF images on Apple devices, allowing users to experience the benefits of this cutting-edge image format.
Imagining a Future Awash in AVIF
When the day comes that Apple incorporates AVIF support into iOS and Safari, a ripple effect will likely ensue. The massive reach of the Apple ecosystem means that millions of devices will suddenly experience the remarkable benefits of AVIF—including reduced file sizes, improved image quality, and better data usage efficiency.
The adoption of AVIF by iOS will further precipitate a shift toward this innovative image format across the web, providing users and developers alike with a truly modern solution for multimedia distribution. As the landscape of online media continues to evolve, one thing is certain: AVIF is a format to watch, and its eventual adoption by Apple represents a significant step forward for the future of image processing and the internet as a whole.