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Apple answers iPhone storage woes with smaller photos, videos

HEVC and HEIF compression mean more space on your iPhone's drive.

James Martin/CNET
This story is part of WWDC 2020. All the latest coverage from Apple's WWDC annual developers conference.

The iPhone's camera is a massive storage hog. We tested -- and found you could fill up an entire 16GB iPhone 6S with just half an hour of 4K video.

But with one fell swoop (and a new version of the iPhone's OS), Apple's about to cut those multimedia file sizes by as much as half. 

With iOS 11, Apple is adopting HEVC video compression, and HEIF photo compression, to drastically shrink the file sizes of video and photos while retaining high quality, according to an Apple announcement at its 2017 Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC).

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Having used HEVC quite a bit myself, I can vouch that it takes up less space. I recently transcoded roughly a terabyte of video to HEVC on my Windows PC, and saw hundreds of gigabytes of savings.

HEVC video compression will soon be native on the Mac as well: Earlier at the conference, Apple announced it'd be bringing native support for the more efficient form of compression in MacOS High Sierra.

Follow our WWDC live blog for real-time coverage.

WWDC 2017: All the news so far.