Google Is Already Experimenting With WebP2 As Successor To WebP Image Format

Written by Michael Larabel in Google on 15 November 2020 at 04:00 PM EST. 76 Comments
Google engineers are already working on WebP2 as the next-generation version of their still image file format.

While it was only last year that Firefox added WebP support and other applications have been following and beginning to see more usage of WebP on the web as an alternative to the likes of JPEG and PNG, Google has begun early experimental work on a WebP 2 revision.

Several Phoronix readers wrote in this weekend that there is now a libwebp2 Git repository on the Google Git server. This WebP 2 repository was created just two weeks ago and contains early work on this "experimental successor of the WebP image format."

The documentation does further reinforce this is work towards the next major iteration of WebP but is still in very early form, "WebP 2 is the successor of the WebP image format, currently in development. It is not ready for general use, and the format is not finalized so changes to the library can break compatibility with images encoded with previous versions. USE AT YOU OWN RISK!"

WebP 2 is working on some new features like 10b HDR support but is principally focused on compression efficiency improvements. The aim is to be around 30% better than the original WebP design but is looking about 20% worse than AVIF. Lossless compression will also be improved as will transparency compression. WebP 2 will also properly support animations, lightweight incremental decoding, and the software implementation will be better threaded.

While the prospects of WebP2 are exciting, it is really in early stages and so far the performance is known to be a disappointment. "WebP2 is currently only partially optimized and, roughly speaking 5x slower than WebP for lossy compression. It still compresses 2x faster than AVIF, but takes 3x more time to decompress. The goal is to reach decompression speed parity." (Those curious about current WebP image encode performance for perspective can see these results. Similarly, there are also avifenc AVIF encode benchmarks.)

Those wishing to monitor progress on WebP2 development can head on over to the libwebp2 Git repo.
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 20,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter, LinkedIn, or contacted via

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