The Google Pixel 7 phones may herald the introduction of higher-quality Bluetooth LE Audio on Android.
It’s a shame. Google’s most recent earbuds do not support it.
The Pixel 6a may have only been on store shelves for a month, but we’re already anticipating what Google has in store for us. With the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro likely a month out from a full reveal, it’s time for the leaks and rumors to really kick into high gear. We already know what both devices look like thanks to an early reveal, but Google has some surprises in store, specifically regarding audio streaming.
The folks at 9to5Google discovered some hints regarding Bluetooth LE Audio support on Google’s upcoming phone lineup. A recent code change prompted a developer to inquire whether the particular file in question was created as an example or if it needed to be installed somewhere. In response, a colleague provides two examples of how this installation might be used: “p22” and “p23a.”
You don’t have to be Benoit Blanc to make some connections with those codenames. The first, “p22,” refers to the 2022 mainline Pixel phones — the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro — while “p23a” refers to the Pixel 7a, which will be released next year. Although Bluetooth LE Audio support is included in Android 13, the standard itself was only finalised in July, so hardware products supporting it — and, more importantly, the new LC3 codec — have yet to ship. This year’s Pixel flagships may be the first Google devices to support Bluetooth LE Audio.
Bluetooth LE Audio is the most recent upgrade to the wireless audio standard you’re probably used to. Its LC3 codec can produce high-quality audio at a lower bitrate, potentially improving battery life and sound quality. It also adds support for Auracast audio sharing, which could, in theory, make device sharing a common occurrence. Needless to say, it’s a big deal for your future devices, and that doesn’t even take into account the future of hearing aids.
Unfortunately, simply having Bluetooth LE Audio on your next smartphone isn’t enough. Your favourite pair of earbuds will also need to support it, which is currently lacking. The Pixel Buds Pro, in particular, came without Bluetooth LE Audio or LC3, and it’s unclear whether a future software update will fix that. While it’s great that the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro will be ready for the future of wireless audio, your headphones may need to catch up.