Understanding HEIF: Apple’s Proprietary Version of the HEIF

Apple's Proprietary Version of the HEIF

Here we are discussing Apple’s Proprietary Version of the HEIF. There’s a constant need for improvement to improve the efficiency and quality of photos. That’s why the JPEG format might be replaced with a new format: HEIF. Although it’s too early to say and may take a few years to take effect, fully gaining knowledge of this format is a good idea.

Apple’s Proprietary Version of the HEIF

What is HEIF?

The HEIF image file format came to the fore when Apple announced in 2017 that it would be the standard format for all images going forward. This format offers better compression than GIF, PNG, JPEG, and other old standards. Therefore, the files are much smaller in size.

However, don’t think Apple invented this format. Instead, the format is based on a technology called HEVC or high efficiency video coding. The technology is created by MPEG. HEIF files support thumbnails and metadata, along with features like non-destructive editing.

HEIC is the extension for Apple’s HEIF pictures, which stands for high efficiency image container. HEIC and HEIF are typically used interchangeably. HEIC files are used by Apple devices like iPads and iPhones because they offer advantages over JPEG files. For instance, HEIC files support advanced image features, smaller file sizes, and store multiple pictures in a single file. However, HEIC files are not compatible with all software and devices. This means you may need to change a HEIC file to JPG to ensure the files are in a more widely supported format.

To convert HEIC to JPEG in a single click on your Mac, you can use apps like Permute. On iPhones, images are automatically saved as HEIC files. So if you have plenty of storage space and want the best possible image quality, change your phone camera settings to store pictures in JPEG. Otherwise, embrace the newer format and click more pictures.

Features & benefits of HEIF

  • Less data, more storage space

HEIF’s rapid adoption rate is attributed to its taking up less storage space. As phones and users enjoy higher resolution content, it is becoming challenging to prevent running out of storage. For instance, a one-minute 4K video amounts to roughly 400MB. But if you store it in the HEIF format, it can be brought down to 200MB. Thanks to this, streaming or uploading content will consume almost half of your data.

  • More colors

HEIF is better at features like Apple’s Live Photos and at compressing bursts of pictures like in the case of HDR, depth information, 3D scene data, etc. Moreover, the format supports 16-bit color, and this offers a significant advantage over JPEG.

Today, smartphone cameras are capable of capturing scenes with 10-bit color gamuts. However, due to JPEG’s limitations, the output is restricted to 8-bit. So, if you want to play with more colors and experience more color clarity, you may want to adopt the HEIF format.

  • Stores different types of data

HEIF format is capable of storing different types of data, which includes image derivations, individual images along with thumbnails and properties, metadata including XMP and EXIF information, auxiliary data, and more.

Will HEIF replace JPEG?

It is unlikely that the HEIF format will entirely eliminate JPEG from your life. However, the JPEG format is deeply entrenched, and it is not going anywhere.

However, the HEIF format offers a reasonable alternative to JPEG, if not as a replacement. JPEGs were touted as one of the most flexible formats that can handle still images and video files, offering lossy and lossless compression in a single compression architecture. Moreover, the format is capable of supporting high bit depths like 16- and 32-bit pixel images. The format can also handle color-space information and store metadata.

Although JPEGs offer several advantages, it does come with some critical drawbacks. First, it requires more memory. This is a significant hurdle to overcome, especially because people click more photos and videos today and need more storage space. Therefore, adopting the HEIF format means you can prevent your storage space from running out. Second, the color clarity and depth of HEIF files are much higher than JPEG files.

But it remains to be seen whether HEIF will replace JPEG in the future. For now, JPEG remains the universal file format. It has the advantage of ubiquity, and that’s hard to compete with. Every device and platform supports the JPEG format. It will take some time for the HEIF format to gain such massive popularity and acceptance.

So,that’s all about HEIF and HEIC you need to know. The format is Apple’s favorite and is widely used across Apple devices. It has a clear advantage over JPEG because it offers file size benefits without losing quality. But if you need to upload or share HEIC pictures, you may want to convert them to JPEG first and then share.


1.   What is HEIC/HEIF used for?

HEIC/HEIF files come in handy for many professional and personal purposes. Professional photographers prefer this format because they can save multiple photos without compromising device storage space. It is also possible to capture multiple action shots of a moving object or store live photos.

2.   How can I open a HEIC file?

HEIC is a space-saving image format that compresses and stores pictures across devices without compromising quality. Apple regularly uses this format, and you can open them easily on your Mac via Preview or Photoshop. On iPhones, images are automatically stored in the format, and you don’t need special software to access them.

3.   Do HEIC and HEIF mean the same?

The terms are often used interchangeably. HEIC files are a variant of the HEIF format. All the latest Apple devices store images in this format. The only difference is that HEIF uses HEVC technology to compress pictures, and HEIC can use different compression methods.

4.   Can I stop my iPhone from taking pictures as HEIC files?

You can change the camera settings on your iPhone. Go to Settings > Camera > Formats > select the Most Compatible option. Now, your phone will start saving photos as JPEG files.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Most Popular

Recent Comments