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Google, Sony Jointly Working To Bring 360 Reality Audio To Android

Sony Xperia 10 10 Plus AM AH 11
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Sony’s 360 Reality Audio technology may soon be coming to Android. The evidence comes from a series of code reviews submitted to the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) in recent times. As spotted by XDA, developers from both Sony and Google have submitted code reviews that mention 360 Reality Audio to the AOSP. This suggests the two companies have joined forces to bring Sony’s object-based spatial audio technology to all Android phones.

Based on the MPEG-H 3D audio codec, Sony’s new audio format requires the music provider to explicitly support it. However, output devices don’t require any specialized hardware to enable 3D audio playback. Instead, participating apps need to add a decoder for MPEG-H 3D audio. The technology then works with any ordinary headphones or speakers. You’d get better results with speakers built for 360 Reality Audio though, such as Sony’s own SRS-RA500.

Sony says Amazon Music HD, Nugs.net, and Tidal are the only three music streaming services that currently offer 360 Reality Audio tracks. Of course, the company’s own phones come with built-in support for this audio technology. The recent developments in the AOSP suggest Android, in general, will now get a built-in decoder for MPEG-H 3D audio as well.

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This will enable any developer to easily add 3D audio playback to their Android apps. Any device would then be able to play 3D audio through these apps, given the music file supports the format. A virtualizer “can place individual sounds in a 360 spherical sound field from these channels on any headphones.”

Sony 360 Reality Audio technology could be coming to Android

Sony first announced its 360 Reality Audio technology at CES 2019. Unlike some rival 3D audio codecs, such as Dolby Atmos and MQA, which require hardware manufacturers or software developers to license a closed, proprietary solution, Sony’s alternative is open to all.

“Yes, our great engineers created the technology, but we want it to be an open platform. We want competitors to join,” Sony President and COO, Mike Fasulo had said back in November 2019. This is exactly what happening right now.

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As reported by XDA, the recently submitted code reviews in the AOSP also contains a comment from Kei Murayama, a software engineer at Sony. It says: “this is one of the patches mentioned in the meeting ‘Android OS 360RA support’ between Google and Sony”. This suggests it’s a joint venture.

Unfortunately, there’s no timeframe available as to when this effort will come to fruition. Hopefully, the developments will progress quickly enough for the 360 Reality Audio technology to be ready to ship with Android 12 later this year.