APNGs, Animated PNGs
Note: This rant has been preserved for historical(or hysterical?) purposes. Some of the info in this rant might be out of date, as it was written quite awhile ago. (Chrome is no longer WebKit-based, for example.)
Update: iOS and Mac Safari browsers have zapped some life back into APNGs with a Frankenstein jolt of electricity, adding support for the format. This puts it in a better coverage position than when it had Opera's backing, though it still has hurdles to clear on being a viable format. Check back later for more goodies and things that support APNGs. And remember, if you want to save 3 fingers-worth of typage, you can type in APN.Gs.
Animated PNGs are dead and will never return.
2009 — 2013
In a world full of standard, grossly interoperable, literal open browser specifications in charge of every aspect of the standards body, and almost nothing but lazy, mentally ill, braindead and poo-flinging monkeys designing it, nothing as beautiful as APNG can survive without eccentric billionares who didn't show up and donate mountains of pure gold.
APNGs never stood a chance in the first place, and while I would them bring back if I could, which I genuinely tried to, as promised, virtually nobody is interested in changing the world wide web for the better, and if you are out there somewhere, you're harder to find than Kirk Johnson. I'm purely writing this for anyone who might still think that APNGs
are coming back, which they are definitely not. It's not possible. They were shunned for a series of political, browser-wars ego reasons.
Because APNG was a
Mozilla idea, and not required as part of an official standard, this quite likely kept rival browsers from adopting it, given that they wouldn't be able to claim the glory of inventing it or be the
leader. Opera was the only non-Mozilla browser to adopt it, and with their recent suicide of their own Presto engine and announcment that they are moving to WebKit or a WebKit-derived engine(which powers Safari and Chrome browsers), it seems unlikely that the APNG support will survive to the next version of Opera.
And it's not as if Opera support was that much of a gamechanger to begin with, given their modest market share... And then there was the rejection of APNG by the
PNG group. Because it competed with the overly complex and virtually dead MNG format that was their idea, they found a petty technicality to declare that APNG breaks the PNG specification. Even though APNG was superior in every practical way to MNG, it recieved a rejection from the PNG group, branding it an outcast and further derailing its potential. APNG had
fall-back-to-first-frame backwards-compatabilty, allowing it to show the first frame(but not the animation), even in browsers that didn't support it. APNG had an extremely low resource usage footprint, allowing browsers to add it with no noticable increase in filesize or performance hit, while MNG was bloated with many extra
features that most people would never reasonably use.
In summary, APNG was a lightweight image format, that would have taken very little to implement, which achieved what most users and webmasters wanted in an animated raster image(A
better Animated GIF with full color and transparency support), that was killed by tech politics.
For Animated SVGs, however, the future looks more bright, with SVG adopted as an open standard and animation via CSS3 animations looking pretty sharp. They even have the ability to embed bitmaps, which could be used to get the animated raster image effect.