What is HEIC image format explained

HEIC (High Efficiency Image Codec) is a new standard image format introduced by Apple in the 2017 iOS 11 update. It is also known by the acronym HEIF (High Performance Image Format). The HEIC format was developed by the MPEG group (Moving Picture Experts Group), which is known for developing video and audio formats – such as MP3 or MP4. Representing the new default image format for iOS 11 devices, HEIC was designed to replace the JPEG format. It is smaller in size and comparable in quality. It also supports transparency. HEIC files can contain multiple images that match the Apple Live Photo functionality. Such files also store image editing information – such as rotating and cropping it – allowing the user to undo changes later.

In this article, we are going to tell you what HEIC image format means.

What does HEIC image format actually mean

HEIC is the image format name that Apple has selected for the new HEIF standard. HEIF stands for High Efficiency Image Format, and as the name implies, it is a more streamlined way to store image files. It uses advanced, state-of-the-art compression techniques to create digital photos in smaller files, maintaining higher image quality than its JPEG alternative.

HEIF is based on the HEVC (High Efficiency Video Compression) or H.265 video format, which is already used in the new iPhone models.

Technically, HEIC is rather a container for images and audio. Apple describes its use for storing static images encoded with the HEVC (H.265) video format. This works especially well with Live Photos because you can store multiple images in the HEIC container. The same is true for dual-camera images on the iPhone X, iPhone XS, and other recent multi-camera iPhones.

What is a difference between HEIC and JPEG

Although JPEG has been the trusted format for online images for a quarter of a century. The replacement of the outdated format by HEIC means that taking photos on an iPhone or iPad now requires much less space in the built-in memory. The increasing quality of images and videos means that users constantly have to keep track of how much space is left on their devices. Apple’s adoption of the new HEIF format alleviates this problem to a large extent.

The fact that HEIC also supports 16-bit images with deep color will be a blessed relief to iPhone photographers who have seen mystical sunset shots ruined by the ugly streakiness caused by the 8 bits currently offered.

How to share HEIC images with non-iPhone users

Apple has said that iPhone users take more than a trillion photos a year, which is a pretty shocking number. But even with those huge numbers, the truth is that Internet and Android users still make up the majority of people, so Apple won’t be able to move the whole world to HEIC just yet.

Instead, devices running iOS 11 or later convert images to JPEGs when you want to share them with non-iPhone friends or for use on various social networking sites.

How to open HEIC files on Windows

Although there were initially problems opening HEIC files in Windows 10, Microsoft has solved the problem. If you want to open and edit HEIC files on your computer, you must install HEIF Image Extensions from the Windows Store. Once you install it, you will be able to view your photo and video collection as usual. 

There are also different third-party applications on the Internet, which offer the same features.

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