Spatial audio is coming to Google smartphones, but with some restrictions

Google has rolled out an update to its Pixel smartphones allowing you to enjoy 3D audio on all headphones and earphones, but also head movement tracking on the Pixel Buds Pro.

The Google Pixel Buds Pro // Source: Chloé Pertuis for Frandroid

There are just a year, Google announced the new features to come for the management of audio on Android. In addition to a democratization of Fast Pair or the management of automatic source switching, the Mountain View company also highlighted the arrival of a spatial audio function. Finally, the firm began the deployment thanks to the last update of its Pixel 6 and Pixel 7.

As reported by the XDA Developers site, Google has indeed begun to deploy the January 2023 security patch on its Pixel 6, Pixel 6 Pro, Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro. In addition to the usual security updates, this new Android function also allows you to take advantage of a new function within the settings of “sound and vibrate“, baptized “spatial audio“.

The menu to activate spatial audio on Google Pixel
The menu to activate spatial audio on Google Pixel // Source: Mishaal Rahman via XDA Developers

Concretely, this option will allow you to take advantage of the3D audio, whether with wired headphones or with a Bluetooth device like wireless headphones or earphones. Initially, this function will nevertheless be limited to only video applications offering spatial audio content such as Netflix, YouTube, Google TV and HBO Max (in the United States).

Google has yet to announce a Spatial Audio feature similar to the one found on the iPhone allowing to virtualize a stereo track, in particular with the follow-up of the movements of the head. Moreover, on these four applications, only content in Dolby Surround 5.1 or Dolby Atmos will be compatible with spatial audio managed by Google. No support for DTS formats is planned for the moment.

An even more advanced function on the Pixel Buds Pro

More and more headset and earphone manufacturers now offer support for spatial audio. Nevertheless, Google’s solution has the merit of being agnostic. Thus, the audio processing is carried out upstream of the Bluetooth transmission. So no matter what earphones or headset you use, you’ll be able to enjoy greater sound immersion with 3D sound. Google, however, plans to further push its spatial audio feature when used in conjunction with headphones. Pixel Buds Pro. “Another update will be rolling out to Pixel Buds Pro in the coming weeks to enable spatial audio with head tracking“, indicates the firm on its website dedicated to support.

As spotted by our colleague Tanguy Toussaint, the functionality is indeed beginning to be deployed on the firm’s headphones as well, as is the equalizer. whose arrival was announced in the fall.

With the January Android update, Google adds audio spatialization (promised for a few months) and an equalizer to its Pixel Buds Pro.

– VS[h]Rono Trigger[ed] (@CronoTK) January 5, 2023

The January 2023 security update is currently being rolled out by Google. All Pixel 6, Pixel 6 Pro, Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro should have access to it in the coming weeks. However, the spatial audio function will not be deployed on the Pixel 6a.

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Spatial audio is coming to Google smartphones, but with some restrictions

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