Apple introduces two new abbreviations for its users at the WWDC event: HEVC for video and HEIF for images. These two forms promise to reduce file sizes by as much as 40 to 50 percent while preserving the same quality. However, only iOS 11 and macOS 10.13 High Sierra can currently read such formats. (Certain smart TVs and some elements of Windows 10 can play the videos, too.)

Readers wonder if this means they’ll suddenly be confronted with unusable files in their iOS 10 and macOS Sierra and older systems, or when they try to interchange files with people outside the Apple ecosystem.

However, Apple’s whole approach to these new formats isn’t a sharp break from the past, something the company has been known to do before. Rather, based on its developer documents and video presentations from WWDC, it’s clear they have designed everything around the notion of graceful degradation. That concept means that when the optimum approach fails, a system tries less and less optimum approaches until it reaches compatibility.

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