Ultra HDR Image Format

Google Messages Integrates Ultra HDR Support for RCS Image Sharing

Google has discreetly introduced support for Android’s cutting-edge Ultra HDR Image Format within Google Messages for RCS (Rich Communication Services) message transfers. The addition was identified by TheSpAndroid, highlighting the presence of the flag ‘bugle.support_ultra_hdr’ in the application APK. Subsequent crowdsourced testing confirmed that this feature is operational on Google Pixel 8 devices, ensuring that images sent over RCS maintain their metadata integrity and display accurately on the recipient’s device.

The Ultra HDR Image Format, a recent introduction in Android 14, serves as an enhanced iteration of the traditional JPEG. It encodes a logarithmic range gain map image in the metadata, allowing devices with HDR displays to showcase images in a broader dynamic range, featuring brighter highlights and enhanced shadow detail. On devices lacking metadata support, the image reverts to the standard dynamic range.

Google incorporated support for this feature ahead of the Pixel 8 launch in September. While Pixel 8 devices are the pioneering Android gadgets capable of capturing images in this format, older Pixel models can still display these images as intended.

Despite this technological advancement, widespread adoption remains limited. Brands like OnePlus and Oppo have their own versions named ProXDR, with incompatible metadata. Establishing a unified format across Android is crucial for widespread acceptance, though the challenge persists, as Apple has its proprietary metadata system and is unlikely to adopt Google’s standard, despite promising RCS support.

For this technology to gain relevance, industry collaboration is essential to settle on a standardized format, especially within the Android ecosystem.

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