Google Photos about to get huge update in photo quality

Google Photos about to get huge update in photo quality
Back in May, we told you that Google had announced Ultra HDR which would allow compatible apps on devices running Android 14 could show photos with a wider range of colors and tones. According to Forbes, based on hidden code strings found in the Google Photos app (version 51.0.561138754), it seems that Ultra HDR compatibility is about to come to the Google Photos app.

The new code strings found in Google Photos include phrases such as:

  • Ultra HDR disabled
  • UltraHdrPreviewFragment
  • EDITOR_ULTRA_HDR_PREVIEW
  • photos_mediadetails_details_ultra_hdr
Now it goes without saying (although we will anyway) that if Google Photos is adding support for Ultra HDR, a future update to Google's camera app will have to give Android phones the capability to shoot in Ultra HDR. Perhaps the Pixel 8 series will have the first cameras able to shoot in Ultra-High Dynamic Range.


As we explained back in May, Ultra HDR adds an extra layer of information called a "gain map" to a standard JPEG image. The improvement in the quality of a photo in Ultra HD is said to be the same as watching television in standard SDR and improving it to Ultra HD. Since existing apps will be able to process and display Ultra HD pictures as though they were normal JPEGs, users can take photos using Ultra HD and share them without having to worry about whether other people could show them. 

Ultra HDR is backward compatible which means photos shot using this feature will still be able to appear on apps that don't support the latest standard. However, on such apps the images will show up in SDR only. And you can look at the embedded image above to see the difference in photo quality.

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While the code strings appear in the aforementioned version of the Google Photos app, Google will still have to activate the update to make the Google Photos app support Ultra HDR. We'd expect that update to quietly take place just a little before Google is expected to release the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro which is reportedly going to take place on October 11th.

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