iPhone's HEIC Format Causing Some Students to Fail AP Exams, Here's How to Fix It

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Apr 12, 2001
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Some high school students taking their AP exams online have run into serious trouble with the HEIC image format on the iPhone and the iPad, which does not work with the website the AP College Board uses to accept tests.


As outlined by The Verge, AP exams taken by high school students in the United States have a written component, and the exam requires students to take and upload a photo of their written responses.

Some high schoolers who used an iPhone to upload the photo ran into problems with the HEIC format, which would not upload and caused the students to fail the exam. There are thousands of students who will now need to retake their AP exams, and they're unhappy that the College Board did not anticipate the error before some of the exams were conducted.

The College Board has now provided express instructions to students, letting them know to swap over to a JPEG format on their devices or to convert an HEIC image to JPEG before submitting it. Here are the College Board's instructions:
  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Scroll down to Camera and tap it.
  3. Tap on the Formats option.
  4. Select "Most Compatible."
With the Most Compatible option selected, photos will always be saved as JPEGs instead of in the HEIC file format.

Alternatively, students who have already saved exam photos as HEIC can convert them to JPEGs by mailing the photos to themselves using the Mail app on an iPhone or iPad, which the College Board says is the most reliable way to ensure a file conversion.

The College Board also plans to allow some students who run into issues submitting their tests to provide the images through email, and as mentioned above, the Mail app will do image conversions automatically. This is an option only for future exams, with students who already failed still required to retake the tests.

Apple has been using the HEIC image format since the 2017 release of iOS 11 because HEIC images are smaller than JPEGs, but the HEIC format has not been widely adopted by websites and internet services. Some newer Android smartphones also use the HEIC format.

Article Link: iPhone's HEIC Format Causing Some Students to Fail AP Exams, Here's How to Fix It
 

zorinlynx

macrumors 603
May 31, 2007
5,948
7,998
Florida, USA
How in the blazes do these people think it's easier to get everyone to change a setting on their phones than to just update the software to accept HEIC?

Any even slightly competent web developer can add the code to convert the image if it's in HEIC, and the libraries to do so are open source and free.
 

casperes1996

macrumors 601
Jan 26, 2014
4,659
2,447
Horsens, Denmark
What I don't get here, is that it was a written exam... That was meant to be uploaded online... And they were apparently doing it in handwriting? . Full sympathy with the students, it's something their school should've taken care of - but why on Earth are exams that are in the end digital anyway being conducted this way, rather than just having them write it on their computer in the first place?
 

TheGeneralist

macrumors newbie
May 1, 2020
2
17
Well, what kind of BS is this?
HEIC is much more efficient than oldschool JPEG and neither an exotic nor a proprietary format, futhermore it is already in daily use for several years and widely spread - to me it looks like it's about time to be able to deal with current formats for all services, not only those Colleges...
 

konqerror

macrumors 68000
Dec 31, 2013
1,970
3,150
Any even slightly competent web developer can add the code to convert the image if it's in HEIC, and the libraries to do so are open source and free.
Opening up College Board to lawsuits if they hadn't gone out and obtained licenses from the HEVC patentholders, particularly Velos Media which is believed to be charging content fees (i.e. it is not sufficient to buy licensed hardware for commercial use).
 

iamasmith

macrumors 6502a
Apr 10, 2015
564
171
Cheshire, UK
It's probably on Office 365 and would you believe that Microsoft software won't even show the correct orientation of a photo based on tags? Try it with Outlook and you will see photo's 90° or 180° because they think that the image should be converted after the fact to one orientation rather than getting the best quality off the original, possibly compressed, version and using the tagging information to show the orientation.

Microsoft has made it cheap for folks to transition their outdated internal systems to similarly limited cloud systems and I'm guessing it's probably something like this.

And don't get me started on Microsoft Teams :/
 
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mtneer

macrumors 68030
Sep 15, 2012
2,866
2,009
The instructions on the College Boards website look very clear to me - with images and step by step instructions on how to save as JPEG's. I am sorry, I am more worried about the quality of these students who couldn't even follow those instructions if they are sitting for "Advanced" placement tests to get into college.
 

kurosov

macrumors 6502a
Jan 3, 2009
658
221
The instructions on the College Boards website look very clear to me - with images and step by step instructions on how to save as JPEG's. I am sorry, I am more worried about the quality of these students who couldn't even follow those instructions if they are sitting for "Advanced" placement tests to get into college.
You expect students to be able to follow step by step instructions before they were written?
 

iMerik

macrumors 6502a
May 3, 2011
587
406
Upper Midwest
The instructions on the College Boards website look very clear to me - with images and step by step instructions on how to save as JPEG's. I am sorry, I am more worried about the quality of these students who couldn't even follow those instructions if they are sitting for "Advanced" placement tests to get into college.
Maybe I'm misreading it, but I took "The College Board has now provided express instructions to students..." to mean that those images and step-by-step instructions were not originally provided to the students that ran into issues.
 

yngrshr

macrumors regular
Mar 7, 2015
163
164
NJ
The instructions on the College Boards website look very clear to me - with images and step by step instructions on how to save as JPEG's. I am sorry, I am more worried about the quality of these students who couldn't even follow those instructions if they are sitting for "Advanced" placement tests to get into college.
It's almost like the instructions went up on the website after the exams went live or something. Yet here you are criticizing the students.
 

EvilEvil

macrumors 6502a
Jan 8, 2007
946
1,283
New York City
i cannot understand how this problem was not identified earlier before the software went live.
Any software devs here that could explain?

It seems like an obvious thing...get an iphone, what lots of people in the US use, and try it before it goes live.
There are only two platforms after all...
Apple barely does any usability testing with actual customers before shipping out their products and software.
 

yngrshr

macrumors regular
Mar 7, 2015
163
164
NJ
Maybe I'm misreading it, but I took "The College Board has now provided express instructions to students..." to mean that those images and step-by-step instructions were not originally provided to the students that ran into issues.
This is correct, which makes me worried about the quality of the poster who couldn't even follow a simple timeline on how this occurred.
- - Post merged: - -

Apple barely does any usability testing with actual customers before shipping out their products and software.
This is not remotely an Apple problem.
 

saudor

macrumors 6502a
Jul 18, 2011
755
518
i cannot understand how this problem was not identified earlier before the software went live.
Any software devs here that could explain?

It seems like an obvious thing...get an iphone, what lots of people in the US use, and try it before it goes live.
There are only two platforms after all...
same reason why a fortune 500 company cannot get a simple large file transfer to complete in a stable manner on a single platform.
 

farewelwilliams

macrumors 68030
Jun 18, 2014
2,677
11,022
The instructions on the College Boards website look very clear to me - with images and step by step instructions on how to save as JPEG's. I am sorry, I am more worried about the quality of these students who couldn't even follow those instructions if they are sitting for "Advanced" placement tests to get into college.
Maybe you should follow the article and you'll understand a bit more on what happened.
 

xWvaADmkJU4n

macrumors newbie
May 1, 2020
3
4
ImageMagick has been able to read heic for several,years now. It’s a standard image-processing backend. What’s the problem with the college board that they can’t handle these files?
 
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