Squoosh Is Google Chrome's Latest Cutting-Edge Image Converter

Google's Chrome Labs division has released a brand new image conversion web app called 'Squoosh' as part of the 2018 Chrome Dev Summit in a bid to show off the potential enabled by this year's many Chrome updates and WebAssembly. The latter of those allowed the team to bring in codecs that aren't otherwise available to create a seamless and powerful user experience. Meanwhile, following best practices for web applications such as decoding images and parsing JavaScript separately as well as a direct focus on speed through Web Workers help drive a smooth user experience. The result is an image optimization tool and file format converter that can work with less common formats like MozJPEG and WebP as well as more standard JPEGs and PNGs. In fact, despite the inclusion of rich editing tools that allow for resizing, color palette reduction, and customizable compression, in addition to advanced settings dealing with color channel management, quantization, and smoothing, the app UI and experience maintain a high-quality feel.

Background: There are, of course, plenty of alternatives for quickly resizing images of various types and converting them or compressing them. Some of those even allow for both steps to be performed at once. Beyond that, there are countless applications that can accomplish the same feats. Those range from web apps to more traditional sites or apps but, typically, also require users to upload an image and then make any possible adjustments prior to the work on the photo actually being previewed. In cases where real-time edit previewing is possible, there is still often plenty of latency between actions and the preview showing up. Even some of the more powerful tools available and widely used, such as the Adobe Photoshop alternative 'GIMP', tend to experience those issues when the in-browser variation is used. Beyond that, mobile tools tend to suffer from separate issues with sites and services that simply aren't optimized for the platform or its typical screen sizes. At the same time, full applications or software often unnecessarily take up storage capacity.

However, Google's new tool can be used on both mobile or desktop and offline, in addition to operating quickly and seemingly in real-time with no 'jank' in the UI to speak of. While Android Headlines hasn't been able to test every mobile device or laptop, that seems to remain the case even on comparatively weak hardware as might be seen with a budget-friendly Chromebook or smartphone. That makes it much more usable than previous tools for a wide assortment of purposes when standard software or applications either aren't available or when more powerful tools simply aren't needed for the task at hand. Better still it can be downloaded as a PWA for use that's even more similar to a full mobile or desktop application.

Impact: Google's intention here isn't necessarily to compete directly with other editing tools that are already available and the company has a long history of dropping support for projects suddenly. That could ultimately turn out to be the case here as well but the entire purpose of the new Squoosh web app seems to be to highlight the current end-goal for Chromium developers. Over the past several months, the search giant has put a substantial amount of effort into bringing its desktop and web browser in line with the OS variant of Chrome. Specifically, it has placed emphasis on enabling the browser to support fully-capable web experiences that are both solidly-built and smooth to use, in support of web developers and cloud-based productivity and entertainment. In particular, aside from security, that focus has been on web applications that replicate native apps and software. In that context, for the time being, Squoosh is a near perfect example of where Chrome is headed and the kinds of expectations users should set going forward.

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