Android 13 could support spatial audio with head tracking on compatible devices
Spatial audio with head tracking reimagines how we enjoy listening to our music and video content. For those unfamiliar with the technology, it provides a 3D sound experience that reacts to the listener’s movements. It requires a compatible device, speaker, and audio file. Once you meet the prerequisites, the sound will adapt as you move your head. This allows you to experience a very realistic output that easily defeats traditional, regular audio. Some iPhone and AirPods models already take advantage of the feature in supported apps. On the other hand, Google has been working on it since Android 12L — which includes partial support for it. Android 13 could finally bring full support for spatial audio with head tracking, assuming you meet the feature’s requirements.
Head tracking makes spatial audio more real. The underlying technology utilizes the accelerometer and gyroscope included in some recent headsets. That’s to track the head’s movements and tweak the audio output accordingly. Esper’s Mishaal Rahman has reported that the current, pre-release build of Android 13 fully supports spatial audio with head tracking on compatible devices. He states:
Audio HAL v7.1 adds APIs for controlling output stream variable latency mode. Latency mode control is required if the device plans to support spatial audio with head tracking over a Bluetooth A2DP connection. There are two types of latency modes: FREE (ie. no specific constraint on the latency) and LOW (a relatively low latency compatible with head tracking operations, typically less than 100ms).
Android 13 is still in the testing phase. As a result, features, APIs, and other tweaks might change or disappear by the time we see the public, stable build. We only hope that spatial audio with head tracking support makes it to the final version and app developers take advantage of it.
Which Android 13 feature are you looking forward to the most? Let us know in the comments section below.