Google has announced changes to the Android ecosystem for developers who work with audio. In particular, a number of actions have been taken over the past four years to reduce audio latency in real time. Accordingly, this has led to significant improvements in audio applications on popular Android devices.
The average audio latency on most common smartphones today is 40ms, which is well within the level required for audio applications. If in 2017 the difference between the highest and lowest audio latency on Android was a whopping 222 ms, then already in 2021 this difference decreased by 8 times and is now 28 ms. An impressive result, especially considering that this applies not only to flagship devices.
Latency refers to the process of transmitting and receiving audio, which consists of three stages: audio input, audio processing, and audio output. Many audio applications rely on actions such as touching the screen rather than the input signal (tap-to-tone) to operate. Therefore, they are sensitive to latency – the time it takes from tapping the screen to playing sound.
Despite a significant reduction in this parameter in the Android ecosystem, the result is still far from ideal. Professional audio applications require 20ms latency and 10ms in the long term. Developers often refrain from creating such applications on Android, but it may be time to reconsider their attitude towards this platform.