Join Seán Duggan for an in-depth discussion in this video The HIEF file format, part of iPhone and iPad Photography for iOS 11.
- [Instructor] One of the major photo-related changes that Apple is initiating with iOS 11 is the adoption of the high efficiency file format for still photos and videos. The format for iOS 11 on the iPhone 7 and later, and the newest generations of iPad Pro is now HEIF or high efficiency image format for stills, and HEVC, high efficiency video codec for video. JPEG and the MPEG4/H.264 video format are no longer the default.
The first thing you might be wondering is how to pronounce H-E-I-F. Well, there's sure to be some disagreement. After all, look at the ongoing dispute over how to pronounce GIF. The general consensus at the moment is to pronounce it heef. The second thing you might wonder about is compatibility. Will it work with your existing programs and systems? At the moment, Apple's adoption of HEIF and HEVC is really just preparing the soil and laying the foundation. Not a lot of apps on the computer or those made for iOS support this new format.
The newest version of Photoshop CC 2018 will open HEIF files, as will the Photos program from Mac in High Sierra, but older programs and older operating systems will not be able to recognize them. To ease the transition, iOS 11 will seamlessly translate these files into JPEG and H.264 when you open an image or video into another photo app, or when you transfer them to your computer. Some iOS 11 apps are already compatible.
Both the Dropbox and PhotoSync apps of iOS have a setting that you can turn on where they will automatically convert HEIF and HEVC files when you use those apps. Other apps and desktop programs are sure to follow. If we go into the Settings in iOS 11 here, and come down to the camera settings, I can tap on Formats, and here you can see that High Efficiency is selected, and this is the default. If you rather shoot in the old standard of JPEG and MPEG4 H.264, you can choose most compatible.
But keep in mind that iOS 11 is converting all of these files in the background, so you shouldn't have to worry about it. Let me go out of the camera settings and into the photos settings, because there's a setting here that you need to know about. All the way at the bottom where it says Transfer to Mac or PC. You can have it set to automatic, and that will automatically transfer the photos and videos in a compatible format, which means JPEG for photos and MPEG for, H.264 for videos, or if you choose to keep originals, that will always transfer the original file without first checking for compatibility on the other end.
So my recommendation is to leave that set to automatic so you don't have to worry about it. So at the moment, it's just the groundwork being prepared, and things are going to operate as they always have, and you shouldn't run in to any compatibility issues. But the question might remain, why switch to HEIF HEVC in the first place? Well, the name says it all, high efficiency. HEIF and the HEVC formats result in significantly smaller file sizes with much better image compression quality.
The HEIF format can also be thought of like a container, unlike a JPEG, which can only hold a grid of pixels that make up a photo, the HEIF format can contain different types of photos, including live photos, animations, and bursts, so it's much more versatile. In the long run, the high efficiency image and video formats will result in more storage space on your iPhone or iPad because the files that you're capturing are smaller. Fortunately, Apple has put a lot of thought into making the gradual adoption of these formats as smooth as possible.
- Shooting panorama photos
- Creating slow-motion videos
- Taking time-lapse videos
- Organizing photos
- Image editing with the Photos app
- Previewing and trimming videos
- Sharing photos
- Transferring photos to and from your device