An replace on Android’s audio latency

Posted by Don Turner – Android Developer Relations Engineer

Header image of audio waves going through phone

This text takes a have a look at what’s modified within the Android ecosystem for audio builders just lately, the audio latency of common Android units, and discusses Android’s suitability for real-time audio apps.

What’s modified?

Over the previous 4 years we’ve got taken numerous actions which have improved audio latency.

timeline of key events which have had an impact on the audio latency of Android devices. Pre-2017: Google working directly with OEMs to reduce audio latency. Start 2017: AAudio - new high-performance audio API is released. Mid-2018: Oboe - an open source, C++ wrapper for AAudio and OpenSL ES is released. Mid 2019: Pixel 3A is the first 10ms Android phone. Mid 2020: OpenSL ES is deprecated. Start 2021: Oboe has 4bn+ installs

Latency discount

These actions, coupled with a renewed focus from gadget producers on audio latency, have led to vital enhancements within the gadget ecosystem. The typical latency of the most well-liked Android telephones has dropped to underneath 40ms, which is effectively throughout the vary required for real-time purposes.

bar graph showing average audio latency of 20 most popular Android phones. In Jan 2017 it was 109 milliseconds. In Jan 2021 it was 39 milliseconds.

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Higher consistency

Digging into the info we will see that in 2017 there was a big distinction between the best and lowest values (222ms).

bar graph showing audio latency of most popular Android phones in Jan 2017. There are 19 in total, all of which are Samsung Galaxy models. The average latency is 109ms, smallest value is 36ms, highest is 258ms, range is 222ms.

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Examine that to the info for 2021. The vary has diminished by an element of 8 to simply 28ms, offering a much more constant audio expertise. That is extra spectacular when you think about that there are actually a number of OEMs on the most-popular listing, in comparison with solely a single producer in 2017. As well as, lots of the units on the listing usually are not high-end flagship fashions.

bar graph showing audio latency of most popular Android phones in Jan 2021. There are 20 in total, with models from Samsung, Redmi, Oppo, Huawei and Vivo. The average latency is 39ms, smallest value is 28ms, highest is 56ms, range is 28ms.

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Faucet-to-tone latency

To this point I have been referring to round-trip audio latency. Spherical-trip latency entails three elements within the audio chain: audio enter, audio processing and audio output.

Many real-time audio apps generate audio from display faucet occasions quite than counting on enter audio. These sorts of apps are delicate to “tap-to-tone” latency – the time taken from tapping on the display to listening to a sound. The latency launched by tapping the touch screen is anywhere from 10-35ms, with 20ms being pretty typical on fashionable Android units.

To estimate tap-to-tone latency given round-trip latency, you possibly can subtract the audio enter latency (usually 5ms), and add the contact latency (usually 20ms). In different phrases, add 15ms to the round-trip latency. Given the numbers above, this implies the typical tap-to-tone latency of the most well-liked android telephones can be effectively underneath that required for many real-time audio purposes.

Seeking to the long run

Regardless of the numerous reductions in audio latency throughout the Android ecosystem our work is nowhere close to full. 20ms round-tip latency is required for Android professional audio apps, and 10ms stays the long run aim. And right now some much less common units nonetheless have excessive audio latency. Nonetheless, if in case you have been holding again on creating an Android app due to audio latency, it is perhaps time to rethink.

To get began, take a look at the Oboe getting started guide or video tutorials.

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