Next Version of Google Play Movies to Add Dolby Vision HDR

Mike Wheatley

Google could soon add support for the Dolby Vision high dynamic range to its Google Play Movies service. Evidence of the move was first identified by XDA Developers during a recent APK teardown of version 4.17.22 of the app.


Google Play Movies has actually supported HDR for years, but only with the HDR10 format, which many believe to be inferior to Dolby Vision. The reason for Dolby Vision’s higher quality is that it allows for dynamic metadata to be used, instead of the static metadata found in HDR10.

Dynamic metadata enables things such as brightness and darkness levels, and colour saturation to change from scene-to-scene, whereas HDR10 only provides a single static profile for an entire film or TV show. Being able to change things around from scene to scene has a much bigger impact, as most movies often move from indoors to outdoors, and from day to night.

Rival movie apps such as Netflix have offered Dolby Vision support for years already, and it’s not clear why Google has been so slow to adapt. It could be due to the licensing fee Dolby requires for operators to use the format. HDR10 in contrast is free to use.

Whatever the reason, it looks like Google is finally going to adopt Dolby Vision in any case. XDA Developer’s teardown of Google Play Movies v4.17.22 includes a couple of giveaway strings of code that indicate the feature will soon be added to the app:

<string name="details_dolby_vision">Dolby Vision</string> <string name="content_description_dolby_vision">Dolby Vision</string>

Teardowns such as this provide useful insights on upcoming features, but they offer no guarantee. Google could still decided to remove the code before Google Play Movies v4.17.22 is released, but hopefully that won’t be the case.

The code strings show that the description of videos offered by Google Play Movies will reveal if the title has Dolby Vision support or not. Still, it’s worth pointing out that you’ll need a compatible TV and streaming device that supports Dolby’s format in order to take advantage of it.