Android 12 is officially live in public beta, as of Google I/O 2021 and there are some new audio transition changes to consider. And that’s especially true where it pertains to changes in audio focus at the app level, reports indicate. Summarily, Google is adding in a feature that crossfades audio when users switch apps.
As the system currently works, the app that has taken what Google refers to as “Audio focus” is started immediately. And the audio from the previous audio app is halted at the same time. But the effect of that can be disconcerting. Especially where differences in volume and intensity are concerned. For instance, when users get a phone call and happen to have the call volume set to max but the previous app was playing at a much lower volume.
What does this do for audio in Android 12?
With the new feature in place, audio from the previous app — whether that’s an app for music, a game, or some other app — will fade out. Simultaneously, audio from the new app — whether that’s another app or a phone call — will fade in.
But this change will undoubtedly present some challenges for developers. Since that effectively equates to a crossfade, the audio won’t necessarily be gone entirely. It simply won’t be audible to end-users once the fade-out is complete. That means that the media itself will continue unless developers ensure that the playback stops or is paused. And that could potentially lead to problems with users losing their place in the overall playback.
To remedy the discrepancy, Google says that Android 12 will send a behind-the-scenes notification to the app that’s being faded out. That way, the playback can be stopped at the app level once the audio is no longer within the range of human perception.
Any knock-on effects from this?
Now, Google’s change here is intended to make transitions between apps easier. But also to reduce unnecessary strain on internal components for Android smartphones. All while making the entire experience better in terms of battery life. So this change should also be useful to those that multitask with their apps. For example, those that use multiple apps in windowed or multi-app or split-screen modes.
But Google will also need to address users who want to listen to music in one app while actively interacting with another. So, presumably, it will introduce a way for users to control that so that playback isn’t interrupted. Especially since Google has said that usage, particularly on foldable and other large-size devices, is the primary reason for this change. The company has yet to reveal any such details.