Can BPG replace JPG?
The benefits of BPG
The downsides of BPG
As alluded to above, nothing is completely perfect, and that’s also the case with BPG. It does have some drawbacks, such as lack of native support, that extends its decompile time. In general, the larger your file, then the slower the decompiling time will be. Presently, decompiling time is approximately between 8 and 10 seconds. If browsers start to include native support for BPG, this time will drastically improve. There’s also main thread blocking to contend with, when you’re decompiling larger files. BPG is created by using HEVC video compression technology, which has been patented by a company called MPEG LA; the same company that owns the H.246 video codec. MPEG LA, being the patents’ owners, could eventually charge royalties on both software and hardware that has BPG decoders built in. In turn, this makes it somewhat unappealing for popular browsers such as Mozilla’s Firefox, open-source and free, to support the BPG format. Last but not least is the lack of sound support. While this may be okay with some — it’s not a video format after all — it would still be nice to have sound.
Hard to change habits
Looking past these downsides, there’s the bigger issue to consider that many designers are simply used to JPG in spite of its drawbacks. While some may call it complacency, the fact is that many designers accept JPG and have become used to working with it across many different projects. A comparison of JPG quality (left) and BPG quality (right). As such, it’s hard to get designers to broadly change over to BPG, especially when you look at how some designers use it by default. In addition, JPG is also widely understood and supported basically everywhere you look. The fact that BPG isn’t, at least not at the time of this writing, is probably its biggest downside. Factor in the reality that image download times have been getting better due to quicker Internet speeds, and it’s hard to believe that BPG, in spite of its clear advantages, will take over from JPG anytime soon, at least completely.
There’s no doubt about it. BPG is new, exciting and serves a need for smaller sizes and higher-quality graphics. In spite of these advantages, though, it is unlikely that designers will make a mass exodus from JPG and start using BPG overnight. That’s especially true when you consider the issues BPG may have with its lack of support from browsers and possible licensing issues as well. BPG is a fresh, exciting format. It delivers superior quality and smaller file size. But with a lack of native browser support, and potential licensing obstacles to it gaining that native support, whether the design community will be switching over to this file format in the next few years, remains to be seen. A comparison of JPG quality (left) and BPG quality (right).