Are you ready to revolutionize your smartphone photography experience? Android P, the latest offering from Google’s Android software series, introduces a groundbreaking feature that compresses your photos to half the size of a regular JPEG. This innovation, known as High Efficiency Image Format (HEIF), promises efficient storage usage and reduced data consumption during sharing and syncing—a game-changer for photography enthusiasts. However, the catch is that not all devices may support this feature due to hardware constraints and patent licensing requirements.

Apple users might recall the buzz surrounding HEIF when it debuted in iOS 11, showcasing its potential with the latest iPhones. Now, Google is embracing this technology, aiming to enhance the photo capabilities of Android devices. While the benefits of HEIF are undeniable, especially in optimizing storage space and network usage, its seamless integration across the diverse landscape of Android devices remains uncertain.

Unlike Apple’s streamlined approach, the Android ecosystem comprises a myriad of phone models from various manufacturers, raising compatibility concerns. As we eagerly anticipate the efficiency and convenience that HEIF promises, the real test lies in its universal adoption and performance across the vast Android market. Stay tuned as we navigate the evolving realm of smartphone photography with Android P and its transformative features.

HEIC Caveats

Before delving deeper, let’s take a moment to understand the world of file formats. HEIF originated from a video compression technology known as High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC). This technology was developed collaboratively by influential tech players such as Samsung, Dolby Laboratories, Qualcomm, and Technicolor. Notably, HEVC has the capability to compress not just videos but also still images. When HEVC is applied to compress images, you’ll notice that the file extensions of photos end in HEIC, rather than HEIF.

Google’s Android P is incorporating support for both HEIF and HEIC formats. The upcoming operating system will introduce various features, including the ability to capture photos in HEIC format using camera apps, convert JPEG images to HEIC, and seamlessly display HEIC images within apps.

However, there is a significant consideration when capturing photos in HEIC format. It’s essential to have hardware that supports HEVC encoding, as per insights from a source familiar with Google’s Android strategies. On the flip side, viewing HEIC images, which is less demanding on processors, doesn’t mandate hardware acceleration.

Qualcomm's new flagship processor, the Snapdragon 845, facilitates HEVC video encoding and enables HEIC photo capture on Android P.Qualcomm's new flagship processor, the Snapdragon 845, facilitates HEVC video encoding and enables HEIC photo capture on Android P.

The Snapdragon 845, Qualcomm’s latest flagship processor, empowers HEVC video encoding, thereby supporting HEIC photo capture on Android P.

The adoption of HEVC technology is on the rise; however, not all devices automatically come equipped with HEVC compression capabilities. For instance, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 810, 820, 835, and the newest 845 models are capable of recording HEVC video. Similarly, most of MediaTek’s premium Helio X series processors can both play and record HEVC video, while the X10 and lower-end Helio P models can only play HEVC video. Samsung’s Exynos 7 and 9 processors support HEVC video recording. On the other hand, only the high-end models from Spreadtrum, known for powering many budget smartphones, offer any form of HEVC support.

Despite a chip’s support for HEVC encoding, the necessity to obtain a license for using the technology poses another challenge. The consortium responsible for HEVC (also referred to as H.265) encountered disagreements on patent licensing fees, leading to the formation of three separate licensing groups. Consequently, any entity leveraging HEVC technology must remunerate each group, alongside engaging legal counsel to scrutinize the intricate terms and conditions.

While several companies have acquired licenses for HEVC implementation across software and hardware, it’s important to acknowledge that not all Android manufacturers may possess the resources to navigate through these complexities effortlessly.

In the ever-evolving world of smartphone technology, Google’s Android P is introducing a new feature that could significantly impact how we store and share photos on our devices. This article delves into the key aspects of this development, shedding light on the potential benefits and challenges that users may encounter.


  1. What is Android P’s new photo-shrinking feature all about?

    • Android P introduces a feature that compresses photos to half the size of a regular JPEG, aiming to reduce storage space and data usage.
  2. Is this feature universally accessible across all phone models?

    • The availability of this feature on different phone models may vary due to hardware and patent licensing constraints associated with High Efficiency Image Format (HEIF).
  3. How does HEIF differ from traditional image formats like JPEG?

    • HEIF is a more advanced format derived from High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC), offering superior compression capabilities and support for additional features like 3D scene data storage.
  4. What are the practical benefits of adopting HEIF for Android users?

    • By switching to HEIF, users can expect reduced storage consumption, minimized data usage during photo sharing, and the ability to capture bursts and HDR images efficiently.
  5. Will Android P support the conversion of JPEG images to HEIF?

    • Android P will enable users to convert photos from JPEG to HEIF format, providing flexibility in managing different image types.
  6. Do all smartphone processors support HEIF encoding?

    • Not all processors are equipped to handle HEIF encoding, requiring specific hardware capabilities like the Snapdragon 845 processor from Qualcomm.
  7. How are patent licensing issues affecting the adoption of HEIF technology?

    • The complex landscape of patent licensing related to HEVC technology poses challenges for manufacturers looking to implement HEIF in their devices.
  8. What are the unique functionalities of HEIF that set it apart from JPEG?

    • HEIF offers advanced features such as storing 3D scene data, creating photo bursts, and supporting live photos, expanding the creative possibilities for users.
  9. How is Google planning to integrate HEIF support in Android P?

    • Google intends to incorporate HEIF support for still images initially, with potential expansion to include features like photo bursts and live photos in the future.
  10. Are there compatibility issues with sharing HEIF images on social media platforms?

    • Some software may not support HEIF images, prompting developers to provide conversion options to ensure seamless sharing on platforms like Facebook.
  11. What implications does the rise of HEIF have on the future of image formats?

    • As technology advances, the adoption of formats like HEIF signifies a potential shift towards more versatile and efficient ways of capturing and sharing photos.
  12. How can users navigate the transition to HEIF from traditional image formats like JPEG?

    • Users may encounter compatibility challenges initially but can leverage conversion tools to adapt to the evolving landscape of image formats effectively.


In conclusion, the integration of HEIF technology in Google’s Android P opens up new possibilities for enhancing the way we interact with photos on our devices. While challenges related to hardware compatibility and patent licensing exist, the benefits of adopting HEIF are substantial, promising improved storage efficiency and advanced features for users. As the digital imaging landscape continues to evolve, embracing innovative formats like HEIF signals a step towards a more dynamic and interactive photography experience. Explore the potential of HEIF and stay tuned for updates on its integration into Android P to optimize your photo-sharing capabilities.

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