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The MPEG group claims that twice as much information can be stored in a HEIF image as in a JPEG image of the same size, resulting in a better quality image.

HEIF files can store the following types of data :

  • Image Items : Storage of individual images, image properties and thumbnail(s).

  • Image Derivations : Derived images enable non-destructive image editing, and are created on the fly by the rendering software using editing instructions stored separately in the HEIF file. These instructions (rectangular cropping, rotation by 90, 180, or 270 degrees, timed graphic overlays, etc.) and images are stored separately in the HEIF file, and describe specific transformations to be applied to the input images. The storage overhead of derived images is small.

  • Image Sequences : Storage of multiple time-related and/or temporally predicted images (like a burst-photo shot or cinemagraph animation), their properties and thumbnails. Different prediction options can be used in order to exploit the temporal and spatial similarities between the images. Hence, file sizes can be drastically reduced even when tens of images are stored in the same HEIF file.

  • Auxiliary Image Items: Storage of image data which complements another image item. An alpha plane or a depth map are examples for such images. These data are not displayed as such, but used in various forms to complement another image item.

  • Image Metadata : Storage of EXIF, XMP and similar metadata which accompany the images stored in the HEIF file.

HEIF image files are stored with filename extensions .heif or .heic.