iPhone App Directory

Anthony's explanation of audio issues on Android

Thanks to Anthony for pointing me at his blog and this post. This is a good article on why there are problems with audio applications on Android, especially real time.

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johnnyg0 said...

I wonder if there's anything in Honeycomb that addresses these concerns.

Anonymous said...

As a fan of android, I think these are valid criticisms.

On one hand it annoys me that google is tone deaf on this - are there no musicians working there?

On the other hand, maybe they are aware of it, but decided that it doesn't make sense as a business priority. As big as the creative music market seems to us, all the music making apps combined have made probably less than .1% of what Angry Bird's take.

Regardless, I want to see this change ... 20-40ms is not "low latency". Hell, my laptop form 9-10 years ago managed 30ms latency. It sucked for playing live then and it sucks now...

Anonymous said...

LowBrowEye's is an interesting post that combines a bit of truth (the audio output driver stacks on most existing Android devices exhibit poor output latency characteristics http://code.google.com/p/android/issues/detail?id=3434) with quite a bit of jackassery. (He doesn't seem to understand what OpenSL ES is, nor that it has very little to do with audio performance, and he presents a whole scenario about retrofitting OpenSL that makes no sense. HTML5 audio? How is that going to solve the problems with audio output drivers? He presents many app development business cases that are... let's just say fictional. Then he hauls out a bunch of other canards about Android development in general that are not relevant to the issue. (BTW, has he tried to decipher the Apple RemoteIO documentation?))

The audio output specs for Android 2.3 are quite an improvement (warm output latency of 10ms, continuous output latency of 45ms or less), but they are only "very strongly recommended". These requirements are supposed to become non-optional in the future. And we're seeing improvements in actual tests with the newer OSs on many real devices.

It's suggested that a new low-level API to the audio hardware is what's required. The circumstances are ripe for some Android device makers to embrace high performance audio as a differentiating feature.

Given the pace of innovation on the platform, it seems very likely a set of solutions will emerge, and we will start to see more audio and music application momentum on Android. In the mean time, there are a lot of interesting audio applications that are not dependent on low-latency synthesis. And the developments in the areas of open source projects and the NDK are booming.

Here's hoping, because of the Android platform's different strengths from iOS' and somewhat delayed maturity, Android audio will emerge with a completely different character from iOS audio. Perhaps Android audio won't just be the iPad's ugly step sister. Maybe Android audio will emerge as something smarter, more diverse and heterogeneous and less commercial. There's much room for improvement in all these areas.

Anonymous said...

interesting, thanks for the counter commentary @anon

Anonymous said...

my android handset.. not only is the latency awful.. the overall sound quality is pathetic.. pandora and high bitrate mp3s.. my eardrums cry. good thing all I use it for is to serve Internet to my iPod. I thought the iPod was
bad-- but holy crap.. at least I get a solid line out signal from the iPod dock.

the above anon comment.. ignores the gorilla.. as most android boosters do.. fragmentation and how it relates to the expense of development. that seemed to be the most important part of the article...

besides the article is about why he doesn't dev now-- he looks forward to future..

other detached points:

audio latency affects games as well.

there's only a couple of decent audio apps for android, and they are rough by comparison. I give + reviews of them and hope they continue, and appreciate what they've been able to so with such a limited platform. there are some good metronome apps that keep time-- most don't though. androids are good cheap utilitarian devices.

anyone notice how when the droids invaded here.. the comments turned sour?

final point: thanks for turning me on to lowbroweye-- I absolutely love it.

best android audio apps (having literally tried every single one across three android handsets)

DJ CONTROL (not really functional yet)
FINGERPLAYMIDI (barely functional, high latency)

Anonymous said...

"When the droids invaded here..." - are you trying to be Lou dobbs?