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Google And Sony are working on a huge Android audio upgrade

Google is planning to give Android users an audio upgrade by working Sony’s 360 Reality Audio format into operating system.

The immersive format, which has been likened to Dolby Atmos for music, has been around since 2019, but currently isn’t supported by too many hardware companies or streaming services.

Now, according to the underlying code within Android, Google may well be teaming up with Sony to bring 360 Reality Audio to integrate the format, which is based on the MPEG-H 3D audio codec.

If it’s built into Android 12, for example, this would mean it’s easier for other streaming apps to add the format for their apps. Right now, Tidal and Amazon Music are the only major streaming services to adopt the format.

The code noted by XDA Developers, features contributions from both Sony and Google developers. The strings highlighted make numerous references to 360 RA and the codec mentioned above.

One of the comments, from Sony engineer Kei Murayama seems to confirm this is a joint effort between the two firms: “This is one of the patches mentioned in the meeting ‘Android OS 360RA support’ between Google and Sony,” he writes, notably.

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While the Amazon Echo Studio – the higher-end Echo – supports the 360-degree audio format, uptake has been limited. In January, Sony announced its own 360 RA products.

The Wi-Fi-enabled 360 Reality Audio compatible speakers SRS-RA5000 and SRS-RA3000 and are now on sale. They have Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa support, but only by piggybacking on a compatible companion device.

The “premium wireless speakers” will help listeners “create an immersive, room-filling 360 Reality Audio sound experience by utilising Sony’s unique Immersive Audio Enhancement algorithm,” the company said in January’s announcement.

Whether it will arrive in time for Android 12 – expected to be fully detailed at Google I/O next month – remains to be seen. Let’s hope so!

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