HEIF is a new updated image container optimized for JPG or PNG, and also supports image sequences such as GIFs, video and audio.
Its acronym comes from High Efficiency Image File Format and is developed by MPEG.
The Apple company has begun to adopt and support it in its latest devices and operating systems and Microsoft Windows also added support for HEIF since Windows 10 April 2018 update.
This standard is projected to become a substitute for various image formats such as the old JPG format, since it offers an optimization in the size of the files while maintaining the same image quality with greater bit depth, and also the possibility of creating image sequences and added audio.
With HEIF, still images encoded in the HVEC (H.265) video format are stored.
For now, the new format streamlines the use of Apple Live Photos, which is a sequence of images that gives movement to the photo.
It also has functions similar to RAW, being able to edit certain aspects of the photo without performing invasive or destructive changes to the original image, which means that you can always restore or return to the original image.
Important note: prior to Windows 10 April 2018 update HEIC files in HEIF format could not be opened in Windows without special application. But after Windows 10 April 2018 update came out you can just click on the HEIC file in question and it will open in Windows Photos app successfully.
For more general information about files, file extensions and registry you can read one of the following articles:
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