The developer preview of Android N may have been released a week ago, but we're still discovering loads of changes and new stuff across the OS. The most recent one that's come to our attention is a new toggle in Sound Settings for mono audio, which makes both left and right audio channels get played back simultaneously through any active sound output.
There are plenty of reasons why someone would want to play sound in mono instead of stereo. Many people prefer listening to music with a single earbud in their ear, but with stereo playback this meant that half the song was never heard. Read More
Last month Chromecast Audio gained the ability to sync audio playback across multiple devices and multiple rooms. This made the little circular music puck a cheaper alternative to Sonos, a way to fill your home with sound using speakers you already have for an additional $35 per Chromecast.
Plugging in the little dongle is hardly a difficult task, but it's still less sightly than having the functionality built-in. Throughout this year, B&O Play, Harman Kardon, Onkyo, Philips, Pioneer, and Raumfeld will all join Sony and LG in producing Google Cast-enabled speakers. As they roll out, Google will introduce the ability to sync playback across multiple speakers and rooms using them as well, just as you already can with Chromecast Audio. Read More
Stock Android may not make a special noise when plugged in to charge over USB, but it does play a tone when your device comes in contact with a wireless charger. Until now though, it hasn't been possible to disable this sound without adjusting the system volume. In Android M that will apparently change, as a new toggle joins the lineup in "Other sounds."
Dial pad tones, screen lock sounds, touch sounds, and touch vibration entries are all still present.
This is a small change, but - even if they're buried in settings - sometimes adding more granular controls can be a good thing, and that seems to be one of the themes of Android M so far. Read More
The significance of SoundHUD becomes apparent only when you pay ridiculously close attention to Android news. As I'm sure most of you do, this will all fit together nicely. SoundHUD picks up where the now-defunct Noyze left off to make it easier to control the volume on your device. It also adds a simple way to get silent mode (more or less) back on Lollipop.
The latest version of the Sonos Android app makes life easier for families and roommates alike. Instead of juggling a single login, users can now hop around between multiple accounts. The software is capable of handling up to 32, large enough to stick in the lounge of a college dorm. Each account has its own nickname and custom music experience.
We first saw multi-account support rolled into the beta early last month, and it wasn't alone.
5.2 also brings PLAYBAR sound enhancements. People who have purchased the soundbar should notice an improved soundstage and better balance regardless of volume levels.
People who don't own a PLAYBAR speaker may still be glad to see improvements in the search experience that makes it easier to pull up music from a variety of sources. Read More
Most of what Google has done in lollipop is great—better design, thoughtful features, and better developer support. However, there are few wonky things going on in this first release, and it's hard to know if they're intentional or not. Case in point, the lack of silent mode on phones. Lowering the volume only offers vibrate mode, and the new priority notification system isn't going to help you.
If we're being honest, it's hard to deny that one of Android's most obnoxious flaws comes in the category of audio performance. Playing some music is generally fine, but the issues start to become obvious after introducing very high quality audio or trying to achieve precise timing or real-time processing. With the L Developer Preview, it appears that Google is driving to improve upon these weaknesses and give audio performance the shot of adrenaline it needs. In a session at Google I/O 2014 titled "Building great multi-media experiences on Android," Glenn Kasten and Andy Hung took to the stage to explain the improvements appearing in the next revision of Android that can give us access to higher quality sound and greatly reduced lag in audio input. Read More
We all use our smartphones differently. Some people rely on them for web browsing and apps, some for texting, and many of us still resort to making calls, you know, when we have to. Even within those categories, several patterns emerge and certain habits and practices have been developed. Many of us have long since abandoned using wired headsets for calling, but a lot of people still prefer them to keeping Bluetooth headsets charged or holding a 5-inch phone against an ear. Unfortunately, these simple wired accessories can also be plagued by bugs like anything else, and both the Nexus 4 and 5 seem to suffer from a pretty big one. Read More
We've all heard the story before. A brand new, very popular device rolls out to the public and everybody hurries to get their hands on it. Shortly thereafter, people start to notice some of the more serious issues that degrade the experience or even make the gadget unusable. When that device is a phone and one of those issues is audio quality during calls and recordings, people can become justifiably angry. It seems this is exactly what's happening with quite a few Nexus 5 owners, as audio going into the built-in microphone is plagued by hissing, popping, loud static, and very low volume. Read More
SoundCloud is known for letting users share original audio, and it's a great way to hear a bit of what creative types are out there, well, creating. With millions of users, there's ample reason to keep the Android app from stagnating for too long. So version 2.7 is now rolling out, and it brings a handful of new features that improve the interface and make discovering new content even easier.
The side menu has been redesigned to make most-used functions more accessible. It comes with a slimmer look that improves upon what is already an attractive UI. Some settings have been tucked away under the options menu, such as Who to follow, activity, record, and settings. Read More