Thursday, May 21, 2020

HEIC and the College Board

Monica Chin (via Nilay Patel):

Nick Bryner, a high school senior in Los Angeles, had just completed his AP English Literature and Composition test last week. But when he snapped a photo of a written answer with his iPhone and attempted to upload it to the testing portal, it stopped responding.

The website got stuck on the loading screen until Bryner’s time ran out. Bryner failed the test.


[The] testing portal doesn’t support the default format on iOS devices and some newer Android phones, HEIC files. HEIC files are smaller than JPEGs and other formats, thus allowing you to store a lot more photos on an iPhone.

I like HEIC because overall it saves me lots of storage space on my iPhone and Mac. But it’s a shame it isn’t more widely supported.

Even Lightroom seems to only partially support it. It treats HEIC files like RAW images and maintains a huge Adobe Camera Raw 2 cache folder of the ones that it has recently converted so that it can work with them.


Update (2020-05-22): Josh Centers:

The College Board says that 1 percent of students experienced problems, which means that, if they are representing the failure rate accurately, only tens of thousands will have to retake their tests.


Nonetheless, it would behoove Apple to contribute resources to upgrading open-source image-processing libraries so HEIC could be supported as easily as other, more common image formats.

2 Comments RSS · Twitter

I work on a edtech app, and we ran into this not too long after iOS 11 introduced it, but we updated things last year.

This is made more challenging because Apple's "automatic conversion" works well -- the phone will upload JPEGs from Safari, and if you email them or even export to Dropbox (IIRC) you'll get what's common. But now, with more Macs running 10.13+ students will move the photos to their Mac (via iCloud or AirDrop) and macOS doesn't do automatic conversions. I think the college board could have uncovered this with more testing, but it's clear widespread support isn't quite there yet.

iPhones have used HEIC for several years now. I’m amazed they didn’t run into this sooner!

I hope HEIC takes off, but with Google pushing a competing format, WEBP, the market is fragmented. JPEG works everywhere.

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