Did AirDrop always transfer images (iPhone-to-Mac) as HEIC format?

Discussion in 'macOS' started by Solomani, Apr 8, 2019.

  1. Solomani macrumors 68040

    Solomani

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2012
    Location:
    Alberto, Canado
    #1
    Hi all,

    I could have sworn that in the past, when I AirDropped photos between my Mac and iPhone, that it retained the same JPEG format. Now I suddenly noticed that, after AirDropping an iPhone photo image to my Mac (iMac 2017, latest Mojave) the image is in HEIC format. Has this always been the case, or is this a recent thing?

    Granted…. the obvious reason to AirDrop photos (back and forth) between smartphone and a computer is to (DUH Apple)…. to make them easily shareable. And sharing means posting or reposting images to social media, Internet, websites etc. And Lordy Lordy…. it comes as no surprise that 99% of Internet apps and websites have no goddam clue what the HEIC format is!


    So yeah, it annoys me a bit that with a HEIC image, I have to take the extra step to convert the stupid file to JPEG before I can share or repost it (e.g. share with a Windows/Android person, or repost on internet website, social media, etc). Is there something in "Settings" that might allow me to change this default image format?



     
  2. niji Contributor

    niji

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2003
    Location:
    tokyo
    #2
    i don't think anything has changed.
    the only way i remember it working from day 1 was that the receiving device controls what format is received.
    and, the only setting that i know if is actually an iOS setting in Photos where you either set Automatic or Original as the format you prefer to be transferred. Automatic being the system decides (in which case it would normally want to choose the new(est) format. Original being whatever format you set yr iOS camera app to be taking.
     
  3. NoBoMac macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2014
    #3
    And under camera settings, there is a switch, "most compatible", aka jpg.

    And depends on how you share an image. For example, if you email a pic from iOS, it will convert to jpg.

    And if I recall correctly, if you plug the device into a computer and import that way, it will convert to jpg.

    Basically, as @niji said, ultimate destination determines how the photo is handled.

    https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT207022
     
  4. Solomani thread starter macrumors 68040

    Solomani

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2012
    Location:
    Alberto, Canado
    #4
    Thanks NoBoMac and niji. I never even knew (or bothered to look) at this Camera setting. After looking at this, now I know why the iPhone camera saves my pictures (ones actually taken by the iPhone camera) as HEIC.

    The iMac/OSX, on the other hand…. I see no such Setting for receiving or exporting a "default" image format.

    Can anyone summarize the benefits of HEIC over JPEG? I know that JPEG is lossy, but also universally compatible. I'm familiar with PNG (since it's been a native Apple format for years), but PNG is non-lossy, tends to be much bigger files on my Mac.
     
  5. TheIntruder macrumors 6502a

    TheIntruder

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2008
    #5
    I just "flipped the switch" and was looking into this so...

    The compression algorithm used in High Efficiency formats is based on H.265, and results in smaller files, with better quality than JPEG, which is 26-some years old. Technology has advanced in that time.

    In my experiments, the file sizes are roughly 50% smaller, in the same way HEVC video files can be much smaller than older H.264 MP4 files.

    The HEIC files that iOS exports are container packages, hence the "C" and not "F." They contain not only the image (static, live, etc.), but also edits and other data, are more flexible, and make it easier to preserve the original. No more pesky separate .AAE files.

    Converting HEIC images to JPEG doesn't appear to sacrifice quality, but the same cannot be sound of the other way around.

    One bonus for Google Photos users is that the service appears to import HEIC files intact, and doesn't further compress them like it does with JPEG files, for those who don't choose for the Original Quality option with limited free storage.

    The only real disadvantage at this point is compatibility with older software, and adoption. Windows and Android are on-board with native compatibility, so it's mostly up to the application developers to follow suit.

    Given that iOS can automatically convert HEIC to JPG during export, it's relatively painless to enable it full-time, save storage space on the device, and still retain wide compatibility.

    One tip -- I found that after turning off the "Most Compatible" switch and then turning it back on, Image Capture was still seeing HEIC exports until I rebooted the device.
     
  6. Frankied22 macrumors 68000

    Frankied22

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2010
    #6
    I deal with this almost everyday. I’m always having to airdrop photos from my phone to my Mac and upload them to a place that doesn’t work with HEIC so I have to use a third party app on my Mac to convert them to jpg. It is quite annoying and I don’t want to switch my phone camera to jpg because HEIC is a better format.
     
  7. uniquexoxo macrumors member

    uniquexoxo

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2018
    Location:
    South East Asia
    #7
    HEIC in layman’s is just similar to JPEG but an Apple Version. Honestly, I don’t see the difference.
    I am using HEIC and I am not having any problems with other apps. What apps are you having problems using HEIC?
     
  8. mpainesyd macrumors 6502a

    mpainesyd

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2008
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    #8
    In iOS12.2 I don't see an option in Settings/Camera to change the format to"most compatible". I realise there advantages to HEIC format but it is annoying that there is no choice (or have the Settings menus changed?)
     
  9. uniquexoxo macrumors member

    uniquexoxo

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2018
    Location:
    South East Asia
    #9
    What iPhone do you have?
     
  10. T'hain Esh Kelch macrumors 601

    T'hain Esh Kelch

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2001
    Location:
    Denmark
    #10
    HEIC is very much a wide standard, and not 'an Apple version'. The modern image standard will either end up being this one, since it supported by all major operating systems and a wide number of software already, or AV1.

    And you might not see the difference when you are looking at high quality JPEGs, but try increasing the compression of it, or compare image sizes, and you'll be bound to see a very big difference. For one image with low JPEG compression it might not be a difference, but when you have 10.000 images, then it suddenly starts making a huge difference space wise.
     
  11. mpainesyd macrumors 6502a

    mpainesyd

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2008
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    #11
    I finally found the Apple support page
    https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT207022
    which states that the Format option is only available on iPhone 7 and above. This explains why my wife's iPhone 7 has it (and transferring images from her phone caused difficulties) but my iPhone SE did not have the option, and does not use HEIC format.
    I have found and changed the setting on the iPhone 7.
    Thank you for the tip.
     
  12. Solomani thread starter macrumors 68040

    Solomani

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2012
    Location:
    Alberto, Canado
    #12
    I was wondering about why Apple did this. Sure, a "container" package (Apple's use of .HEIC) might contain more types of data all in one package, but then doesn't that totally break the compatibility/consistency with the rest-of-the-world's use of .HEIF?

    No wonder when I try to transfer the .HEIC file, some internet websites/apps have no clue what file format I am using. And btw, even MacOSX Safari v 12.1 currently cannot "Open" a .HEIC file. It sure knows what a JPG file is tho.
     
  13. TheIntruder macrumors 6502a

    TheIntruder

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2008
    #13
    Both extensions are sanctioned under the standard developed by MPEG, so they should be accepted either way, similar to how both .JPG and .JPEG are used interchangeably.

    However, one thing I've learned since then is that HEIF files are containers as well, with the distinction that they can contain content encoded with various codecs, including JPEG(!), while an HEIC container has content specifically encoded with HEVC.

    As long as the developers who provide compatibility for these new files do their jobs properly, this should all be transparent to the user, regardless of which suffix is used.
     
  14. cynics macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2012
    #14
    HEIF is the file format, hence it being "high efficiency file format". The format conforms to a specific ISO base media which is basically how the file is structured and handled. Like mentioned above HEIF isn't specific to any codec.

    HEIC is the actual file container. HEIC is specific to using the HEVC Main profiles for encoding data. HEVC/h265 offers better compression with less loss of quality.

    So with HEIC you can get a similar size file that looks better then JPG because it contains more image data. OR you can get a smaller size file that looks the same as JPG. Since Apple was already optimizing image quality for a lossy format then their decision which to do was already decided....smaller files that look similar.

    This is the results of an identical looking image (without using a microscope anyway).

    Screen Shot 2019-05-18 at 2.38.41 PM.png

    Less than half the data used for what looks to otherwise be an identical photo.

    If all your photos and videos were HEIC/HEVC you're iCloud storage and/or local storage would be using ~1/2 the space it currently is. This is what Apple is trying to accomplish. This saves you storage and cloud space and it saves them server time.

    The cost of that compression (nothing is free) is it takes more powerful hardware to compress and decompress files that much. Its especially difficult with video since it needs to be done in real time, if the CPU can do it then you drop frames and the video stutters.

    This makes very obvious compatibility problems with older devices that lack the hardware to compress and decompress the HEVC files. So what Apple did was give you two options, keep original or convert the file for compatibility. Converting takes the HEVC encoded files, transcodes them to a more common codec (jpg, h264) using profiles and settings that match the quality of the original HEVC file. While the image/video looks similar the file gets significantly larger.

    iOS and MacOS handle this conversion very well. If the device you are sending the file too is known to not support HEVC it will be converted, if its an unknown it will be converted, and of course if it can view/play the file its not converted. This is done through all sharing methods (AirDrop, iMessage, Mail, etc etc). iCloud Photo Library will keep the original but if the device doesn't support it exports will default to jpg (so dragging an heic out of the photos and onto the desktop).

    I'm not sure if that helps clarify things or makes things worse. Lol
     

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13 April 8, 2019