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Back in 1992, Bill Clinton was elected US president, Microsoft released Windows 3.1 and digital photo experts created the JPEG image format.
The first two are mostly matters for historians now, but a quarter century later, JPEG remains a part of our daily lives.
To that end, it announced this month at its WWDC programmer conference that it's endowing its i Phones, i Pads and Macs with support for a new photo-storing technology called HEIF, short for High Efficiency Image Format. Compatibility problems and other factors complicate HEIF's prospects.
HEIF needs only half the storage space as a JPEG photo of the same quality. But Apple has massive clout in the computing industry.
The red line shows the king of image formats, JPEG, and the yellow line is Google's competing Web P. With one, it doesn't matter if you took a photo with an Android phone and then share it with a college roommate with a Windows PC.
JPEG, the king of photo formats, has been around for decades, and every computing device out there understands JPEG files.
That's just what an i Phone 7 Plus can do with its dual-camera design, so HEIF offers a straightforward way for app developers to use that distance information once i OS 11 starts shipping.
Apple uses the data to blur backgrounds in its portrait mode, but now others can use it for other effects -- generating a selfie of you on the moon or some other exotic location, for example."In i OS 11, we're storing the depth map as part of what we capture.
That's a remarkable achievement for the fast-moving computing industry.
Apple, though, thinks it's time to start moving on.
But HEIF is new, so most devices today have no idea how to handle them. The original, high-quality version of an image often can be shrunk so you can fit more on your phone and worry less about blowing through your monthly network data cap when you share them.
For those devices, encountering an HEIF file is like when you visit a country where you don't speak the language. Photos using HEIF take up half the space as a JPEG, or alternatively offer crisper, more detailed and colorful images at the same size.
And if other phone makers want use the same feature, i Phone users should be able to see them more easily if they're recorded as HEIF images.