If you’ve ever wondered why photos you upload to Twitter don’t look as nice as the pics in your camera roll or gallery, it’s because typically Twitter reduces the quality of your photos in order to save space. But starting today, that’s about to change.
According to Twitter engineer Nolan O’Brien, Twitter will now preserve JPEGs exactly as they were originally encoded when uploaded on Twitter. (O’Brien was later retweeted by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.) However, for the time being, this only applies to photos uploaded to Twitter for Web, though in a follow-up tweet, O’Brien added that lossless JPEG upload will expand to other types of images like avatars sometime in 2020.
Starting today, Twitter will preserve JPEGs as they are encoded for upload on Twitter for Web. (Caveat, cannot have EXIF orientation)
— Nolan O'Brien (@NolanOBrien) December 11, 2019
Sadly, there’s no word yet on if this change in photo uploads will make its way to the iOS or Android Twitter apps, but we’ve reached out to Twitter for more info and will update the story if we hear back. We’re hoping that Twitter is simply starting out by improving photo uploads for its web client before upgrading photo uploads for the company’s various apps. (Note: While Guetzli was used to encode the pic in O’Brien’s tweet, Guetzli is not being baked into Twitter itself.)
Additionally, things like preview images and thumbnails will continue to be transcoded to lower quality in order to reduce file sizes and latency, which means you need to expand an image or open it in a new tab or window to see the pic in its full quality.
And like before, metadata like Exif data will not be preserved, so if you were hoping to see data like what camera snapped the pic or what the specific camera settings were, you’re still out of luck. Still, that’s a good thing for preserving privacy.
But with improved photo quality for uploads on Twitter for Web, Twitter may be low-key trying to position itself as a better alternative to competitors like Instagram. However, in that case, Twitter would probably need to add a lot more photo upgrades than just better-looking JPEGs.