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Google Messages added Ultra HDR image support in RCS chats and no one noticed it yet

Ultra HDR images are standard JPEG images with HDR metadata, and Google Messages is not stripping away the metadata.
By
November 27, 2023
Google Messages SMS stock photo 2
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority
TL;DR
  • Google Messages quietly added Ultra HDR support in RCS chats.
  • Pixel 8 users have reported that they can send Ultra HDR images within Google Messages. While there is no UI indication, the HDR gain map is retained.
  • Ultra HDR is a new image format that adds HDR metadata to standard JPEG.

The team behind Google Messages is super hard at work lately, as several new features have been spotted in development. These features elevate the Google Messages experience from being a no-frills texting app for Android to being a great no-frills texting app for Android. Now, another new feature has been spotted in the form of Ultra HDR support in RCS chats, and it has already rolled out to Pixel 8 users.

As spotted by TheSpAndroid, Google Messages has added support for Ultra HDR images, but with the other limitations that come with the new image format. Ultra HDR is a new image format that is available on Android 14, and it is available only on RCS chats. As a result, you will only be able to experience this new feature on Android 14 devices. You’ll also need an Ultra HDR image, which you can easily capture on the Pixel 8 series.

Ultra HDR is a new image format that is the standard JPEG format with HDR metadata. Since Ultra HDR builds on top of JPEG, non-HDR displays can continue to show the standard image, while HDR displays can take advantage of the HDR metadata to boost the colors and contrast of the image. You get darker shadows and brighter highlights and an overall richer photo.

Users can send and receive Ultra HDR images in RCS chats within Google Messages. There are no indications that an image sent or received is an Ultra HDR image, but the image gets the gain map applied when you view it. Google Messages does not appear to be stripping the HDR gain map from the image, which is good news for the future of the image format and also that of the messaging platform.