The Android O Developer Preview was just made available this morning, and there are a ton of new features to dig through. From better battery life to adaptive icons, Google is stocking its newest version with new settings and features that will have enthusiasts incredibly excited. And while some hardware manufacturers are beginning to remove the headphone jack from their devices to make space for… courage, the newest edition of Android is giving devices even better Bluetooth audio with support for advanced codecs like LDAC and the AAudio API.
If you weren’t aware, LDAC is a codec created by Sony which can transfer up to 990kbps of data compared to the 328kbps cap of the much more common SBC codec. The codec also has a frequency of 44.1 kHz, which is the same frequency as playing directly from a CD, a huge step forward for Bluetooth audio. Previously, the codec was only available on specified Sony products such as Xperia and Walkman devices, but the codec being baked into Android itself means you should be able to play back these high-res files on any compatible Bluetooth headphones, though manufacturers will likely need to pay a hefty licensing fee to play it back.
Another option that is likely set to be supported is Qualcomm’s aptX, a high quality streaming protocol which offers a much higher bitrate than more common options already on the market. While Google doesn’t directly reference this protocol in the update notes, it would make sense for this new protocol to come to a variety of devices which will most likely be running compatible Qualcomm chips.
The AAudio API is a new native API from Google designed specifically for apps that require high-resolution, low latency audio. Google says that apps using this API can read and write data via streams, and while the API is not yet complete, they are looking for feedback from developers to help build the API overtime. This will hopefully have something complete and ready once Android O launches in Q3, but until then you’ll want to stick to other high-quality options until this is complete.
With Bluetooth 4.1 and 4.2 already in the mainstream and Bluetooth 5.0 making its way to devices in the near future, we’ll hopefully be able to emulate the quality of plugged in devices soon. Do any of these changes interest you?