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Hey Google, Chrome for iOS Needs WebP Support Tout Suite

To my dismay I‘ve learned that Chrome for iOS does not display WebP images. Safari doesn’t either of course, so to my knowledge the only way to be able to sort of view websites on iOS using WebP with no javascript decoder is to use the low-rated Opera Mini for iOS. But that browser not only makes up just 1/400th of all iOS traffic to my sites, and Opera Mini uses Opera’s proxy servers to compress and maybe transcode images to speed up users’ web browsing, there is no way to disable that and the highest quality image setting is noticeably and unacceptably lossy. So, another WebP adoption roadblock, Chrome for iOS in its present state; but this one easily surmountable, isn’t it? Aren’t iOS app developers using WebP? And what’s this thing?

Apple with just the iPhone managed to make Flash playing, as a prerequisite for a normal web experience on any device, vanish by pulling support on iOS. Apple hasn’t shown much interest in WebP yet, so that’s not helpful to the cause, but Chrome for iOS has been topping the iOS downloads charts, and on my sites this month is accounting for 25% of iOS traffic, up from 10% in March. So that’s not a bad window for Google to take advantage of to help lift this thing off the ground and I am perplexed as to why they haven’t done it. If it is something that iOS somehow prevents them from doing, perhaps they could get around it by similar means of what Opera does, and what Chrome Beta for Android does with Google’s SPDY proxy servers.

As for the javascript decoder sites can use, from my testing, most computers and devices can only handle a few mid-sized images on a single page without getting stuttery, getting too slow or crashing. The HTTP_ACCEPT detection, finicky, plus, as for hosting both jpeg and webp duplicates on your site defeats half the purpose (only saves bandwidth, hurts storage) of adopting WebP, and many web designers are not able or are not inclined to tool around with mod_rewrite, .htaccess and the mod_negotiation stuff necessary to pull that off properly or have the ability or server access to install mod_pagespeed.

You too Windows Phone, let’s get the environment so that if someone wants to use a WebP-supporting browser, regardless of which of the somewhat-relevant platforms he’s using, there’s at least some option available. No skin off your back, you’re only handing something good to the web, not so much to Google’s bank account, so just do it.

Google, your math guys have done some fascinatingly amazing work with WebP and beyond. You’ve given me respect for mathematics. It is pure potential progress, everybody wins if support becomes ubiquitous. With Mozilla cozying up to implementation in Firefox finally, plus what I presume is an ability for you to drop it into Chrome for iOS, the hole in the dam may finally be getting big enough to push the big players over the edge, just as has been recently done with Microsoft and SPDY. So flex some muscle on WebP adoption, make it happen. No one’s in a better position to make something like that happen than you. The math is there, now drive it home. The web is waiting.

Drive it home, Google.

Doug Simmons