The HEIC file format used by Apple is ‘too efficient’, it seems.
Google recently made the news for a rather odd “bug” that allows iPhone users to have unlimited cloud storage to back up photos at ‘Original Quality’. The bug is related to Apple’s HEIC image format and the size of an HEIC image would actually increase if Google Photos tried to compress it for storage on the cloud. Google has acknowledged the bug, and has promised a fix, but it’s unclear how Google will fix the problem and do justice to users of its own smartphones.
A loophole discovered recently allows iPhone users unlimited backups at ‘Original Quality’ when using the HEIC image format. The format has been described as ‘too efficient’, and Google would actually increase the file size if it tried to compress the image files, apart from wasting computing resources on compressing the billions of images clicked on iPhones and stored in the HEIC format. If users opt for the JPG format, the loophole doesn’t work.
Interestingly, unlimited ‘Original Quality’ backups is a feature limited to older Google Pixel devices, with the Google Pixel 4 series not getting it. Most Android and iOS devices have the ability to backup unlimited images to Google Photos at ‘High Quality’, which compresses the image; these backups don’t count towards the user’s storage limit.
Apple iPhone users get effective ‘Original Quality’ backups of HEIC format images even if they’ve opted for ‘High Quality’ backups, as a result of the bug. Google has acknowledged the bug and promised a fix in a statement to Android Police.
“We are aware of this bug and are working to fix it,” Google told the publication.
However, this fix might be complicated to create, since the HEIC file format is so efficient in terms of file size. For now, though, iPhone users are enjoying an advantage that even Google Pixel 4 buyers won’t get.