The Pixel 7 series and Pixel 7a could offer Bluetooth LE audio in a higher quality.

It appears that Google intends to provide Bluetooth LE Audio compatibility for the Pixel 7, Pixel 7 Pro, and Pixel 7a at a higher quality level.

The most recent Bluetooth LE Audio standard was officially supported for the first time by Android 13’s mobile operating system. The standard actually includes a few significant innovations, and it might take some time for Android to completely embrace them.

The next generation of true wireless earbuds, for instance, will be more effective thanks to Bluetooth LE Music because your phone will be able to simultaneously transfer audio to both buds rather than bridging the audio from one to the other. Auracast is another option for playing the same audio from a single sender across a larger range of receivers (speakers, headphones, hearing aids, etc.). Additionally, Bluetooth LE uses less battery power than Bluetooth Classic.

The LC3 audio codec, which compresses sounds significantly more effectively than Bluetooth Classic audio options, is the most obvious enhancement. Like any other audio codec, LC3 may be set up to utilize more or less data as necessary. It is even rumored to be able to adapt instantly to account for poor connections or interference.

Naturally, both devices—for instance, your phone and earbuds—must support the same codecs at the same quality levels for audio to actually be delivered and played accurately. For instance, even though there are headphones on the market today that support other Bluetooth Classic codecs, such as Qualcomm’s aptX HD, if your Android phone doesn’t support it as well, you won’t get anything out of it.

Google adds a means for a phone to have options for higher resolution or higher bandwidth than Android 13 comes with by default in a recent Android code change . While it is already reasonable to assume that Google is working on this for the benefit of Pixel phones, a discussion among Google employees reveals that this work is actually being done in anticipation of the Pixel 7 series and Pixel 7a.

One Googler queries whether Android genuinely uses a specific XML file used here to provide all the various Bluetooth LE Audio codec options available or if it is only being used as an example. In response, a second Googler provides access to the settings for Bluetooth LE Audio in the Pixel 7 series and Pixel 7a.

The Googler refers to these phones as p22/p23a in more detail. In this context, “p22” stands for the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro smartphones, both of which go on sale in the fall of 2022. Similarly, p23a refers to Google’s A-series phone, the rumored Pixel 7a, which will debut in 2023.

Since the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7a’s source code is currently unavailable to the general public, we are unable to yet determine how those devices will improve Android 13’s Bluetooth LE Audio compatibility. Only the description of how some devices might offer higher quality or larger bandwidth might be considered a hint.

This could imply that the Pixel 6 cannot match the audio quality of the Pixel 7 series and Pixel 7a on devices that support Bluetooth LE Audio. The fact that those two products are mentioned together suggests that the second-generation Google Tensor processor includes this better Bluetooth LE Audio compatibility.

The Pixel 7’s full Bluetooth LE Audio support, however, won’t be important to most users for some time. Since the standard is so new, very few products currently exist that fully support Bluetooth LE Audio. A subsequent upgrade this year is expected to make the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro the first widely available earbuds to support it.

Even Google’s own Pixel Buds Pro don’t yet support the new standard, despite expectations that they would ship with Bluetooth LE Audio capabilities. Given that the first feature drop is already planned to include, among other things, the addition of spatial audio to the earphones, it is possible that the required functionality will become available later this year.

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