Google Finally Adds Support for Bluetooth In-Band Ringtones with Android 8.0
With every new major Android version update comes a slew of new features. Android O, Google’s upcoming software release, most notably brings support for notification channels, picture-in-picture mode, autofill managers, and background limitations on apps. But as with any new major version release, there are a bunch of under-the-hood changes that are much less publicized. One such change finally adds a Bluetooth related feature that users have been requesting for many years now – in-band ringing. The feature is a part of the Bluetooth Hands-Free Profile (HFP) and it allows your phone to send its custom ringtone to the connected Bluetooth device. Thus with an in-band ringtone you no longer have to hear whatever default beeping noise your Bluetooth device makes when you receive a phone call.
In-Band Ringtone Support Comes to Android 8.0
Google is no stranger to taking their sweet time to add what many see as basic features of smart devices. The next version of Android in particular seems to be rectifying many Bluetooth related complaints people have been having. We recently uncovered evidence that Bluetooth battery level indicators would be coming to a future version of Android (though not necessarily Android 8.0), and we already know that Bluetooth audio codec support is in the next release. But tucked away in the same Developer Options menu where you can find the audio codec options is a feature that has been requested by users since 2009 – in-band ringtone support.
As you might expect, toggling this option will allow whatever ringtone you have set up on your smartphone will allow it to be played on your Bluetooth headset when your phone is ringing. This has been a part of the Hands-Free Profile (warning: PDF download link) for many years now, and iOS has had support for this specification for a long while. But only now has Google finally decided to implement the feature.
Back in early April, a few commits were added to the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) which adds support for in-band ringtones. However, as shown in the first screenshot taken from the latest Android O Developer Preview, in-band ringing is explicitly opt-in and not in a place the average user would dig around in. A Google employee commented on a now-closed bug report on the Google Issue Tracker stating that in-band ringing would be added in a future software version, but we are unsure if this feature showed up in earlier versions of the Developer Preview. If it did, then nobody must have noticed it.
In any case, we’re glad to finally see Google adding support for a feature that users have been asking for since the past 8 years. Although we’re disappointed it takes this long for Android to receive some basic software features that have existed in iOS, it’s better late than never for it to come to Android. The addition of in-band ringtones might not seem like a big deal to most of you, but there’s a reason why people love setting custom ringtones on their phone. It’s a pretty basic way of personalizing your phone and it’s strange to hear that your ringtone wouldn’t play on your connected Bluetooth device.
As Android 8.0 gets closer and closer to its final release, we’ll be on the lookout for new features that are either live or are on the way. Keep up with the latest Android news by downloading the XDA Labs application.
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