Pixelmator 2.4 for iOS brings full iOS 11 compatibility, including HEIF and Drag and Drop support


 

The iOS version of the image editing tool Pixelmator received an update on Tuesday, with version 2.4 “Cobalt” making the app fully compatible with iOS 11, including support for the HEIF format for images and the ability to Drag and Drop files into Pixelmator projects.

A useful addition for iPad users and part of the productivity additions introduced with iOS 11, the ability to use Drag and Drop makes it easier for users to incorporate other media into their Pixelmator compositions. Files can be moved individually or as a group into Pixelmator, including from Split View and the recent files pop-up window from apps located in the Dock.

The addition of High Efficiency Image File (HEIF) support means that Pixelmator is able to use photographs taken on an iPad or an iPhone using the format, instead of JPEG images. Apple introduced HEIF in iOS 11 to improve the compression of images, reducing the amount of an iPhone or iPad’s storage that photographs consume without losing quality, though apps also have to be updated to support images using it.

The Cobalt update also incorporates a number of bug fixes and other improvements, with the developers highlighting four of the main changes in its release notes. One fix related to the app unexpectedly quitting when “zooming in after starting a selection,” while another solves a problem where Pixelmator would occasionally stop responding after the user immediately tries reopening an image after closing it.

The development team also fixed an error where the composition would randomly disappear when layers are added or removed. Lastly, an issue where buttons in the Color and Format popovers would not respond to touches by the user has been cleared up.

Pixelmator for iOS is available in the iOS App Store for $4.99. It is compatible with the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch running iOS 9.1 or later, and takes up 138 megabytes of storage.

The update to the iOS version of Pixelmator echoes similar changes made to the macOS edition earlier in October. Version 3.7 “Mount Whitney” updated the image editor to be fully compatible with macOS High Sierra and added support for HEIF photographs, as well as a number of other integration and performance improvements.

What You Need to Know About HEIF in macOS High Sierra and iOS 11

With the official release of iOS 11 and macOS High Sierra, Apple introduced support for a new image format called HEIF. Apple sees HEIF as a worthy successor to the JPEG format. So what makes it so good that it can replace an industry standard that’s been in use for almost 25 years?

What is HEIF?

HEIF stands for High Efficiency Image Format and can be considered the still-image version of the HEVC video codec that Apple’s ecosystem now officially supports. (You can learn more about HEVC here.) The HEIF standard wasn’t made by Apple – it was developed in 2015 by the MPEG group, which also invented the AAC audio format used in iTunes.

Benefits of HEIF Over JPEG

As the name implies, HEIF is a more streamlined method of storing image data and offers better quality than the traditional JPEG format. For example, HEIF supports image transparency and can capture a more extended color range than JPEG (16-bit versus 8-bit), which should increase the accuracy of photos taken on Apple’s latest iPhones. At the same time, a HEIF-encoded image should be around half the file size of an equivalent-quality JPEG, so users will be able to keep twice the number of shots on their Apple devices (or in iCloud) before they max out their storage capacity.

In addition, HEIF files include a 320×240 embedded thumbnail that’s four times the resolution but only twice the file size of a standard JPEG thumbnail. HEIF images can also be rotated and cropped without altering the image or re-saving them, all of which makes working with HEIF files that much faster than JPEG on both Mac and iOS devices.


HEIF also brings other benefits that JPEG doesn’t offer because it’s unlike your typical image format. That’s because it’s also capable of acting as a container for multiple files. This should be a boon for anyone who takes bursts of photos or lots of Live Photos – which can be edited in multiple new ways in iOS 11 – but it also means HEIF could become a wholesale replacement for GIF.

HEIF Compatibility and Image Sharing

Currently, Apple only supports HEIF image encoding on iOS devices with a minimum A10 Fusion processor, so that includes the 2017 10.5-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro, the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, and of course Apple’s new 2017 range of iPhones. Owners of these devices can check their camera is encoding photos in HEIF by going to Settings -> Camera -> Formats, and ensuring the “High Efficiency” option is selected. The “Most Compatible” option means photos will be encoded in JPEG format.


HEIF is supported on all Macs capable of running macOS High Sierra, and many macOS applications work natively with HEIF, including Photos, Preview, and Quick Look. This means macOS users might consider converting their JPEG image files to HEIF for greater storage or network benefits.

The transition to HEIF within the Apple ecosystem should be mostly transparent, but if users need to move HEIF content outside of that ecosystem, it’s worth looking into transcoding options (JPEG, for example) to provide the best backwards compatibility for other users. Happily, iOS 11 will auto-convert HEIF images to JPEG when they are shared to devices running earlier versions of iOS, non-Apple devices, and popular social media sites, or when they are passed over to apps that don’t yet support the standard.

What You Need to Know About HEIF in macOS High Sierra and iOS 11

With the official release of iOS 11 and macOS High Sierra, Apple introduced support for a new image format called HEIF. Apple sees HEIF as a worthy successor to the JPEG format. So what makes it so good that it can replace an industry standard that’s been in use for almost 25 years?

What is HEIF?

HEIF stands for High Efficiency Image Format and can be considered the still-image version of the HEVC video codec that Apple’s ecosystem now officially supports. (You can learn more about HEVC here.) The HEIF standard wasn’t made by Apple – it was developed in 2015 by the MPEG group, which also invented the AAC audio format used in iTunes.

Benefits of HEIF Over JPEG

As the name implies, HEIF is a more streamlined method of storing image data and offers better quality than the traditional JPEG format. For example, HEIF supports image transparency and can capture a more extended color range than JPEG (16-bit versus 8-bit), which should increase the accuracy of photos taken on Apple’s latest iPhones. At the same time, a HEIF-encoded image should be around half the file size of an equivalent-quality JPEG, so users will be able to keep twice the number of shots on their Apple devices (or in iCloud) before they max out their storage capacity.

In addition, HEIF files include a 320×240 embedded thumbnail that’s four times the resolution but only twice the file size of a standard JPEG thumbnail. HEIF images can also be rotated and cropped without altering the image or re-saving them, all of which makes working with HEIF files that much faster than JPEG on both Mac and iOS devices.


HEIF also brings other benefits that JPEG doesn’t offer because it’s unlike your typical image format. That’s because it’s also capable of acting as a container for multiple files. This should be a boon for anyone who takes bursts of photos or lots of Live Photos – which can be edited in multiple new ways in iOS 11 – but it also means HEIF could become a wholesale replacement for GIF.

HEIF Compatibility and Image Sharing

Currently, Apple only supports HEIF image encoding on iOS devices with a minimum A10 Fusion processor, so that includes the 2017 10.5-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro, the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, and of course Apple’s new 2017 range of iPhones. Owners of these devices can check their camera is encoding photos in HEIF by going to Settings -> Camera -> Formats, and ensuring the “High Efficiency” option is selected. The “Most Compatible” option means photos will be encoded in JPEG format.


HEIF is supported on all Macs capable of running macOS High Sierra, and many macOS applications work natively with HEIF, including Photos, Preview, and Quick Look. This means macOS users might consider converting their JPEG image files to HEIF for greater storage or network benefits.

The transition to HEIF within the Apple ecosystem should be mostly transparent, but if users need to move HEIF content outside of that ecosystem, it’s worth looking into transcoding options (JPEG, for example) to provide the best backwards compatibility for other users. Happily, iOS 11 will auto-convert HEIF images to JPEG when they are shared to devices running earlier versions of iOS, non-Apple devices, and popular social media sites, or when they are passed over to apps that don’t yet support the standard.

Will new HEVC and HEIF formats work in older versions of macOS and iOS?

Will new HEVC and HEIF formats work in older versions of macOS and iOS? | Macworld<!– –><!–
–>


wwdc2017 hevc macoshighsiera
Credit:
Apple

“);});try{$(“div.lazyload_blox_ad”).lazyLoadAd({threshold:0,forceLoad:false,onLoad:false,onComplete:false,timeout:1500,debug:false,xray:false});}catch(exception){console.log(“error loading lazyload_ad “+exception);}});

Apple introduces two new abbreviations for its users at the WWDC event: HEVC for video and HEIF for images. These two forms promise to reduce file sizes by as much as 40 to 50 percent while preserving the same quality. However, only iOS 11 and macOS 10.13 High Sierra can currently read such formats. (Certain smart TVs and some elements of Windows 10 can play the videos, too.)

Readers wonder if this means they’ll suddenly be confronted with unusable files in their iOS 10 and macOS Sierra and older systems, or when they try to interchange files with people outside the Apple ecosystem.

However, Apple’s whole approach to these new formats isn’t a sharp break from the past, something the company has been known to do before. Rather, based on its developer documents and video presentations from WWDC, it’s clear they have designed everything around the notion of graceful degradation. That concept means that when the optimum approach fails, a system tries less and less optimum approaches until it reaches compatibility.

mac911 apple transcoding hevc heifApple

Apple explains to developers how its new media framework delivers the right format.

The new OSes will store everything they capture in the new formats by default, and allow developers to wire in the same frameworks to allow third-party apps to do the same. As long as you’re within the OS or app, those are the formats that are used.

However, when you leave those confines—say, by sharing an image to another app or emailing a video to someone—iOS and macOS’s media software will determine whether or not the receiving part of that equation can reliably play the more compact format. If not, it will deliver up a compatible option.

I know, I know: you’re sure that this can’t be reliable. However, based on the details provided, Apple will err on the side of compatibility. Given that Apple’s HEIF is based on a standard that allows for a lot of variation, it’s unlikely we’ll see other systems read it for some time. HEVC, otherwise known as H.265, is already widely supported in some devices and its compatibility will only grow because of the huge savings in streaming bandwidth used.

It’s still not clear to me how Apple will manage HEIF and HEVC in iCloud Photo Library. I have the public beta of iOS 11 installed on an iPad, and the photos taken with it sync properly to iCloud, but on my other devices, the show up as JPEG files, not containers. It’s possible that the central iCloud sync will retain HEIF files and sync JPEG to the end points, but then what happens when you edit a file on a Mac running an older version? That’s what we’ll have to wait to find out.

Ask Mac 911

We’ve compiled a list of the questions we get asked most frequently along with answers and links to columns: read our super FAQ to see if your question is covered. If not, we’re always looking for new problems to solve! Email yours to mac911@macworld.com including screen captures as appropriate. Mac 911 can’t reply to—nor publish an answer to—every question, and we don’t provide direct troubleshooting advice.