Android phones and tablets already make pretty decent portable media players. But some of the best mobile apps for recording or creating audio are still iOS-only. That’s at least partly bbecause Apple’s smartphone and tablet operating system supports low-latency audio processing, something that’s been missing from Android… until now.

The next version of Google Android is due out this fall, and the Android L Developer Preview is already available. And it’ll include a number of audio enhancements, including support for real-time audio processing.

That could help app makers to offer better digital audio editing software as well as karaoke apps and apps that let you alter your voice in real-time, among other thing.

android l

Developers previously had to deal with latency of up to 200 millisconds. While that might not sound like a lot of time, it can be an eternity if you’re trying to process audio in real-time. It’d cause a kind of echo effect if you were listening to your own voice or trying to record a music session.

Working with app developers including StarMaker (maker of iOS karaoke apps) and Smule (maker of the I Am T-Pain app for iOS), Google has worked to improve latency issues, bringing that time down to about 20 milliseconds.

Google is also adding support for 24bit 96 kHz sampling, improved audio/video sync, and added official support for USB audio devices including external sound cards or other devices.

Even with these improvements, it could take a while for Android to catch up with iOS — there are already plenty of great audio apps for iOS and it’s not clear if app developers will bring all of those apps to Google’s operating system. But don’t be surprised if we see more karaoke, music creation, and audio editing apps in the Play Store after Android L launches this fall.

via GigaOm, Geeknizer, and /r/Android



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17 replies on “Google brings low latency audio processing to Android L”

  1. 20ms is lame!!! bravo android.. bravoo.. your all dumb.. don’t you do any research with users for christ sake..

  2. When pigs fly?
    Apple already done that wonderful job but android is very lag in some cases.

  3. Audio developers have been complaining about the latency in Android for years. 20ms is still too long though. But it’s a great improvement on previous efforts.

      1. Hard to hear difference under 20ms? No way!
        Below 10ms is what any musician would say is acceptable – but lower is preferable…
        20ms is comparable with hitting a drum that’s almost 7 meters away (sound travels at about 340m/s). That definitely doesn’t feel good…

        1. Both hear and feel. And that effect is very disorienting. You seen those speech jammer videos. Kinda like that.

        2. Wasn’t me that said it couldn’t be heard was Jerome, probably negligible below 10ms though.

      2. No it’s not. If you would talk about 20ms roundtrip, then maybe, but even then can be done. 20ms input latency feels laggy to a player, given that the round trip latency will be 40ms at minimum.

      3. Try using a MIDI controller to play piano or synth samples and you’ll find out how quickly you can notice anything above 10ms, especially on faster lead runs. Below 10 is acceptable, but ideally it should be 5 or less, and that’s entirely possible to achieve, especially considering most phones are just as fast or faster than the average laptop and even desktop these days.

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