Google Messages has had the ability to send and receive ultra HDR images within RCS chats added in a recent update without much fanfare, having only just been spotted by TheSpAndroid recently. This feature has been added to the app on Pixel 8 series devices with more expected to follow in the future, but only those that are updated to Android 14.
Ultra HDR is an image format that takes existing JPEG formatted images, and includes HDR metadata on top of it, which gives the benefit of showing the standard image on non-HDR displays while also displaying the HDR version on displays that support it. There is no clear indication that an image is Ultra HDR when sent via messages, and the image will get the HDR gain map applied once the image is viewed confirming that this is not being stripped by the app.
Google first published information to its Developers page regarding the Ultra HDR Image Format v1.0 in July 2023, and then launched the feature with Android 14 in during its October Google Event. Google went on to say that the technology would build upon the existing high dynamic range (HDR) video that was included as a feature in Android 13.
This update comes not long after Apple confirmed that it would begin supporting the RCS messaging standard on iOS, with a software update due in 2024. All iPhones since the iPhone 12 series have supported the capture of HDR images by default, which means that this update would support viewing HDR photos taken on iPhones that are sent via RCS to Android phones that support it as well.
The RCS (Rich Communication Services) standard was implemented into Android 3 years ago now, granting the benefits of other chat apps such as iMessage and WhatsApp, to Android users within the default messaging app on the platform. Ever since then it has been gaining more features such as emoji reactions, and reminder nudges as well.