Android 12 will fade audio transitions between apps

Android 12 will fade audio transitions between apps

Google on Tuesday gave us our first look at the biggest redesign to Android in years. The updated Material Design will put an emphasis on customization and is fittingly being called Material You. But it’s not just looks that are new with the arrival of Android 12; Google is also making some key changes to the audio experience.

In a blog post explaining what’s new in Android 12, Google’s VP of Engineering, Dave Burke, said that the new software will introduce smoother audio transitions.

UI isn’t just about the visuals. We’ve also improved the way that audio focus is handled. When an app loses audio focus, its audio is automatically faded out, providing a smoother transition between apps which play audio, and preventing apps from playing over each other. This is particularly relevant in foldable and multi-screen Android environments.

Audio focus is determined by the app in question that’s playing media. Google explained that when an app requests audio focus while another app has the focus and is playing, the framework forces the playing app to fade out. This will be a nice change because instead of another app abruptly ending its audio stream whenever the user starts another session, Android 12 will nicely fade out the old stream that’s lost focus.

The smoother audio transitions arrive among other audio improvements. Google said that starting with Android 12, a media or game app that uses audio focus shouldn’t play audio after it loses focus. So, if you are listening to music and then you launch a social media app, the audio of the app you’re focused on will be prioritized, so they’re not overlapping each other.

Google said new audio features will also be implemented with incoming phone calls. Some apps “don’t behave properly” and continue playing during phone calls, forcing the user to find and mute or quit the app in order to focus on their call. The improved audio features will ensure that no app continues playing when there’s an incoming call.

The improved audio features in Android 12 are just a fraction of what’s new. Google’s new update is now available in beta for Pixel phones. Here’s how to download it for your device.

This article was updated at 00:08 AM ET on May 19, 2021, to correct our explanation of the new audio focus behavior. We regret any errors.

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Brandon Russell
Brandon Russell

Brandon's love of technology can be traced back to his childhood, when he would obsessively watch Back to the Future. Since then he's followed the industry and its many innovations, from handheld consoles to powerful smartphones. He's still waiting on a hoverboard.