Google released Android 13 QPR1 beta for Pixel phones last week. We’ve seen audio-related enhancements so far, and now Google looks to be preparing new Pixel Buds features. The QPR beta adds a spatial audio toggle for headphones, although its implementation is unclear.
Apple popularised spatial audio with the AirPods Pro, and Google has announced a similar capability for the Pixel Buds Pro. Google’s Spatializer APIs will enable spatial audio in Android 13, according to Google9to5. Google says the QPR beta has a spatial audio toggle for every headset, not only Pixel Buds Pro. Surprisingly, wired headphones also have a toggle.
Spatial Audio on the Pixel 6 is currently untested. Even when listening to what should be surround sound with the Pixel Buds Pro and other headsets, turning on Spatial Audio makes no difference.
Android apps still need to be upgraded to use Android 13‘s new APIs, but app makers haven’t had much motivation to do so because Spatial Audio hadn’t yet been enabled for any phones, creating a chicken-and-egg problem.
Spatial Audio for the Pixel 6 and Android may still be a ways off. Google plans to add Spatial Audio to the Pixel Buds Pro “soon,” meaning they may be working with partners or improving surround-sound apps like Google TV and YouTube TV. Next month’s Pixel hardware launch should reveal more.