In the multimedia experience, audio almost always gets the short end of the stick compared to video and graphics. Lately, however, there has been a growing awareness of the role that sound plays in the overall experience, especially with the rise of Bluetooth earphones and earbuds. Technologies that were once limited to large speakers are now coming to accessories as small as TWS buds and Android might soon be embracing one such technology, marketed as 360 Reality Audio, thanks to the partnership between Google and Sony.
3D audio is the hip new thing in the sound space these days and interest from both content creators and consumers continues to increase as time passes. Consumer technologies like Spatial Audio in the AirPods Pro and AirPods Max are piquing people’s interests and Sony is expanding its own brand of an immersive audio experience to Android in general.
Sony’s 360 Reality Audio technology isn’t completely new even on mobile, but it has so far been limited to Sony’s Xperia phones. XDA, however, noticed changes to the Android Open Source Project or AOSP that brings support for such 3D audio systems to the wider mobile market. That includes not just 360 Reality Audio but also support for the MPEG-H 3D spatial sound codec that it uses.
In theory, any Android phone will be able to support 3D audio playback once these changes become available to the public. The phones won’t even need to have specialized speakers or headphones, though Sony would definitely recommend buying some of its gear that enhances 360 Reality Audio. That said, apps do need to actually support 360 Reality Audio for that to happen and, at the moment, that list is pretty short.
Google seems to be taking a path towards making the audio experience a primary focus of its future products. It has recently acquired Dysonics, a company that’s known for its spatial audio technology, generating the speculation that future Pixel Buds would be sporting that 3D audio feature eventually.