Safari 16 supports AVIF in macOS Ventura and iOS 16

WebKit has supported the next-generation image format AVIF since April 2021, but Safari has not. That's because Apple's web browser can only process image types that macOS and iOS support. The release of iOS 16, and soon macOS Ventura, brings support for the AVIF image format to the operating system and Safari 16.

AVIF support in Safari 16, macOS Ventura, and iOS 16

AVIF is a next-gen image format that is poised to replace WebP. Chrome added support for AVIF in late 2020, and Firefox began supporting it in January 2021. WebKit added support for AVIF in April 2021, but Safari did not. While Safari is based on WebKit, it relies on the operating system to process images. That means if macOS and iOS don’t support AVIF, then neither does Safari.

It took ten years for Safari to support WebP, and there were concerns that Apple might again take several years to support AVIF. Fortunately, Apple isn’t waiting that long. On June 22, 2022, an Apple software engineer confirmed in a bug ticket entitled, Support AVIF images for macOS Ventura and iOS 16, that AVIF images will be supported in Safari.

The system frameworks will be used to render the AVIF images on macOS Ventura and iOS 16.

Said Abou-Hallawa, Apple Software Engineer, WebKit Bugzilla Bug “241904”

On June 25, 2022, another Apple software engineer confirmed the change in a review for this WebKit commit on GitHub.

Add the mime type and the UTI of the AVIF to the list of the allowed image formats. The system frameworks will be used to render the AVIF images on macOS Ventura and iOS 16. Because of sand-boxing limitations, software decoding has to be used for AVIF images.

Myles C. Maxfield, Apple Software Engineer, GitHub commit for “Support AVIF images for macOS Ventura and iOS 16”

And on June 28, 2022, the Apple evangelist for web developer experiences for Safari and WebKit further confirmed AVIF support in Safari in a comment left on a GitHub for Can I Use.

AVIF support is in macOS Ventura and iOS 16, and we did just land support for AVIF in WebKit — so support in Safari is on its way!

Jen Simmons, Apple Evangelist, Web Developer Experiences, Safari and WebKit, AVIF coming to Safari & Safari on iOS 16? #6348

Safari 16 in the beta 2 builds of macOS and iOS 16 didn’t support AVIF, but the operating systems had limited support. For example, the Finder app could display a preview of AVIF images.

AVIF in Finder
AVIF image preview in Finder app on macOS Ventura

And AVIF images could be opened in the Preview app.

AVIF in Preview app
Preview app in macOS Ventura supports viewing AVIF files

The third developer beta of macOS and iOS 16 continued to have limited AVIF capabilities, but Safari 16 could render AVIF images.

AVIF image rendering in Safari 16
AVIF sample image rendered in Safari 16. Image credit: Ryo Hirafuji and Alexander Karpinsky via GitHub

On July 14, 2022, Apple made Safari Technology Preview 149 available to download, and the release notes further confirmed AVIF support in Safari for macOS Ventura and iOS 16.

Release Notes
Release notes for Safari Technology Preview 149

On September 12, 2022, Apple released iOS 16 to the general public. Safari 16, in conjunction with the new operating system, supports rendering AVIF images. However, support for animated AVIF images is still missing. Apple plans to support animated AVIF images, the successor to animated GIFs, in Safari 16.1.

Release notes for Safari 16.1 Beta
Release notes for Safari 16.1 Beta stating future support for animated AVIF images

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Jon Henshaw

Jon is the founder of Coywolf and the EIC and the primary author reporting for Coywolf News. He is an industry veteran with over 25 years of digital marketing and internet technologies experience. Follow @[email protected]