Compare and convert HEIF, JPEG and WebP images with rokka

TL;DR

Go to https://compare.rokka.io/_compare/ and compare the output of the HEIF, JPEG and WebP formats. Even upload your own pictures. All done with rokka.

Long version

Apple produced quite some hype with their support for the HEIF image format in the upcoming iOS 11 and macOS High Sierra. HEIF (High Efficiency Image File Format) is a new image file format, which supports many use cases and uses HEVC for the compression part, also known as H.265. Apple is using HEIF on their latest devices as a replacement for storing pictures and claims up to 50% saves on storage.

Even though no browser does support HEIF yet, also not Safari in the current betas, we nevertheless thought it would be cool to add HEIF support to rokka – our image storage and delivery service. And so we did.

Unfortunately there’s no out-of-the-box solution to create HEIF files currently. But Ben Gotow‘s site jpgtoheif.com inspired us. He published instructions how to create HEIF files with the help of ffmpeg, x265 and Nokia’s heif writerapp. But due to the uncommercial-only license of that Nokia code, we use GPAC to create the HEIF container, which is published under the LGPL license.

Looking at and comparing HEIF compressed images

What’s the fun, when almost no one can look at the result? So we built a little site, where you can compare the output of rokka’s HEIF, JPEG and WebP (the later is only supported on Chrome) and even upload your own pictures. Just head to

https://compare.rokka.io/_compare/

and enjoy it. The uploaded images will be deleted from time to time.

The site uses Nokia’s HEIF Reader JavaScript Implementation, which decodes a HEIF image in JavaScript to a canvas element. This way, everyone can look at HEIF images and compare them to JPEG and WebP output.

The site also allows you to play with different quality settings. All formats support a setting from 1 to 100. 1 is the lowest and 100 the highest (also means lossless for WebP). The different quality settings for the different formats don’t really correspondent to each other. Just play around with them and compare the sizes of the images with different settings.

We use pretty much the default settings of ffmpeg, maybe some stuff could be improved on that side. And we also don’t know what kind of encoder Apple is using for generating HEIF images. So don’t really compare the compression we produce for HEIF images with what maybe other encoders can do.

Also be aware, that we asynchronously compress JPEG images in the background with mozjpeg (see the rokka docs for details), so the first render output is not the maximized compression we can get for JPEG images. Just hit the render button 10 seconds later to get the final compression (the site will inform you, when it’s not done yet with that compression step).

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5 lessons learnt about the new SAP Cloud Platform SDK for iOS

The SAP Cloud Platform SDK for iOS was released in March and we were very excited to try it out. This toolkit allows companies to let developers build, extend, and run iOS apps based on SAP back-end data. Thus, business’ employees can access live data at any time from their iOS mobile app, and enjoy the standard SAP Fiori design language they are used to.

We booked a one-day hands-on with Noé in our ThinkSpace war room with the objective to have a demo app up and running and plugged to the SAP Cloud Platform (formerly known as SAP Hana). This may sound like an easy goal but honestly, knowing SAP, we thought that it was already ambitious.

Continue reading about 5 lessons learnt about the new SAP Cloud Platform SDK for iOS

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Do I Need a Mobile Application or a Mobile Website?

In our digital era where people’s attention is scattered between apps and websites, it’s not easy to know whether you need a mobile application, or if a responsive website (that can be accessed via your web browser) would meet your needs.

I have this discussion every week with new clients, and I thought it was time to share our reasoning here at Liip in order to give you a clear answer if you still hesitate.

Do You Want To Reach Your Users, or Bring Rich Features to Them?

When clients come with a mobile app request, I explain them that most of the time, a web application is more efficient in terms of investment, as well as in term of reach.

The second question I get after this answer is: “When would I need a mobile app, then?”
In my point of view, mobile apps are useful when they are crafted to be rich — vs. the reach that web applications can provide. Rich in terms of features that are only available on mobile devices, and that can’t be achieved via web technologies.

Continue reading about Do I Need a Mobile Application or a Mobile Website?

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5 industrial challenges mobile applications can solve

How can mobile applications support industries to undertake a digital transformation? In supply chain, risk management, or information distribution, mobile applications will make tasks easier for your employees, thus increasing efficiency. Read about 5 industrial challenges that mobile apps can solve.

First of all, it is important to carefully chose between a web and a mobile application. Mobile apps are useful when they use one of the device’s native capabilities (e.g. Bluetooth, GPS, camera, etc.), and when they enhance the experience provided to the user (compared to what a web application could do).

Industrial challenges

The challenges industries face are often very good candidates for mobile apps as they leverage all their potential. Therefore, I have identified five recurring issues that industries are facing nowadays. These pain points can be easily relieved by mobile applications.

Challenge 1: Productivity issues due to technical limitations

Continue reading about 5 industrial challenges mobile applications can solve

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GottaGo – Episode II

Hi there, it’s Marc again, talking about recent development in the GottaGo camp.

As I promised in Blick am Abend and a recent Blogpost, we are ready to roll out the new version of “GottaGo” in September.
We are facing minor naming issues, since another app is on the App Store with the same name, but we got it first, so it won’t be a big issue.

The testing versions are already out there and we got amazing feedback so far. That’s why we chose to submit GottaGo v.0.1.0 to the App Store on September 16th. We hope that Apple will release it sooner than later, but we can’t really tell. Usually it takes between 1 – 2 weeks.

So, what is new in this already useful app? Everything you wanted it to have – and more.
We waited quite long to release this version, against a software engineering law: “release often, release early”. This is because we wanted to provide you with a complete tool, where none of your wishes are prioritized – they were all very important to us.

You can now either watch the new video (h.264, 50mb) or read on and see some screenshots. I recommend both.

Before we take a deeper look at the features, here are some screenshots for you, for a better imagination.

 

To the features:

  • Language support: We now support English, German, French and Italian – we’d actually support Rumantsch too, but there is no setting for the iPhone.
  • Search as you type: A list of stations and contacts which match your input are displayed as you type. Also known as “Live Search”
  • Stations and addresses get validated, just in case you misspelled it.
  • All new locator: This should dramatically increase your experience with GottaGo. You can set the accuracy which fits your needs and your city/town.
  • Use an address for nearby search: What was only possible with “Current Location” is now possible with addresses as well. Just type your address and it will automatically find the nearest stations around you.
  • Set your travel date: Now you can look up later trips and your returning trips as well.
  • Switch “from” and “to”: With a click on the “From” and “To” texts, you switch the values – just in case you want to get home again.
  • Transparent offline mode / Recent trips: Your old searches are stored on your iPhone for later reuse. Even when you’re in a tunnel or the like, you can take a look at your recent trips, without internet connection.
  • Open GottaGo where you left it: Whenever you decide to close GottaGo or open Maps out of it, it will open at the same position you left it.
  • Loads of user interface changes: You will see, that with the new features comes a much better UI, which will help you find your way through all the new features.

We hope it’s not too much change, but they all make a lot of sense to us – and if you think there is something else you want to see in GottaGo v.0.2.0: Don’t hesitate to contact us!

In the end, it’s a pleasure to thank the other main contributors to GottaGo – there are also a lot of small contributions, which were/are also needed, thanks a lot to you, too!
Main contributers were our partner designer from sichr.com and the guys over at local.ch, especially Vasile who did a really great job with their API.
Thanks a lot to you guys!

If you want to get bleeding edge information and updates, visit my blog on codesofa.com – where you can also sign up yourself for the newest of the newset GottaGo test-versions.

Have a safe trip.

 

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GottaGo is Number 2^H1 in the Swiss iTunes Store

GottaGo, the free “iPhone bring me home with public transport” application for Switzerland was officially released this Wednesday on the iTunes App Store. Get it at http://liip.to/gottaGo while it’s hot.

Today it’s already number 2 in the most downloaded applications from the swiss store. Plus raving reviews and some twitter buzz. Here’s the proof:

Gottago2

GottaGo was written by our employee Marc Ammann. On his Codesofa blog there’s much more information about it. And if you find bugs or have any suggestion, you can use the GGO project in our Issue-Tracker

To get all the information, GottaGo also uses a self-written mashup API using the SBB and Google Map data for providing everything needed. There’s nothing like that already available. It’s built with Okapi and is explained in more detail on Marc’s Blog.

And we’re almost sure, that this wasn’t our last iPhone application :)

Update 8.8.08: It’s number one now:

Gg2

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GottaGo – iPhone bring me home

With the upcoming release of the iPhone in Switzerland and the opening of Apple’s AppStore, I was for sure pretty excited to get my hands on the iPhone SDK. A few weeks ago, I was granted access to the iPhone SDK Beta – which meant a lot more helpful resources and a first try of the new iPhone OS.. It felt pretty easy to handle right at the first touch – those “Framework Evangelists” did a pretty decent job. I did really miss a couple of things which were available in the unofficial “SDK” but now the tools of the trade were finally at hands.

Getting into it meant a lot more reading than actual writing, which is not usually the way I learn(ed) programming. At last when I was able to catch some time to get started with the iPhone SDK, and after those few hours needed to find my way around, things got up to speed. Once you know how and where to look up for help, those things do becomes like your mothers tongue ;)
I’ll blog about my experiences with the iPhone SDK later on and I might be able to put a few tips and tricks online.

Now to the real news..

I’m “proud” to present one of the first swiss-made native iPhone applications, called “GottaGo” (well, I’m not aware of any others).

Imagine: how many times were you out in the city and didn’t have a clue where your closest, fastest traffic links were.. this happened to me like every other day or so.. enter GottaGo, telling me how to get home, to the office (or just about anywhere) from where I am, using the nearest and best public transport option.
So GottaGo is a little location-based application to help Switzerlands public-transport fans (everybody here is, right?) find their way around the country. GottaGo locates you, locates the next stations around you, tells you for every station the next Bus/Train/Tram connection and when you’ll be back home. It’s also able to look up just a single link like you’d probably do on sbb.ch. I’m sure you get the idea about the little lifesaver. If not, it will probably be way clearer if you take a look at the screenshots or the video:

gottago_0 gottago_1
gottago_2 gottago_3

And the highlight: the video of GottaGo in action (960×540, H.264).

GottaGo is built on the official SDK and no secret backdoors were used, so this is going to be released through AppStore soon. We hope to release the app for free. We’ll see, when AppStore launches, what the conditions actually really will be. I hope you like the app and consider using it in the future. If applicable, please do consider switching from your car to public transportation. And yes, sure there will be a lot more things to come for the iPhone from Liip/me – so, stay tuned for more :)

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If you spill coffee on your MacBook Pro …

… and some keys don’t work anymore afterwards, don’t bother trying to clean it :) You can take the keyboard apart to a great extend (see this guide for some info) and even put it back together so that it still works. But you can’t get to the actual conducting paths which got dirty during the accident, as they are sealed between two plastic sheets. The coffee must have gotten there through some capillary attraction… One learns something new every day.

Anyway, ordered a new keyboard (which by the way not every mac shop in town is willing to give you) and use an external keyboard until that on arrives :)

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New hardware @ Bitflux HQ :)

Dsc00229

Two new dual xeon servers for Netzwirt and Mediagonal
and an Intel iMac 20″ for our testing, presentation and performance needs :)

And yes, I will install Windows as a second boot option on that (mainly for IE testing as windows boxes are pretty rare in our office), but hopefully VMware or similar (like Q) are soon available and useable on OS X itself, so the dual boot won’t be needed anymore :)

And I should clean the lens of my mobile phone cam…

Update: Testing Parallels, looking good :)

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Sonic Youth and Gilmore Girls

Was watching the latest episode of Gilmore Girls (the tv series with the fastest talking actors and the most referencse to history, geography, literature, current events, movies (“don’t brokeback mountain on me”), etcetc.. I suspect I always only get half of the jokes) and when one of the main figures was getting ready for something, she was listening to one of my all-time-favourite bands: Sonic Youth… Nice. And since she’s playing a 22 year old college girl (with Pro Choice posters on her wall, btw ) and I doubt many people in this age even heard of that band, hopefully a little mind opening for all the brain-washed klingelton teenagers of today :)

The clip for anyone wondering:
Sy-Gg

PS: Don’t watch Gilmore Girls in German, it’s not half the fun…

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