Audio On Android Needs To Be Fixed

Android audio programmingDeveloper Victor Lazzarini, writing on The Audio Programming Blog, shared his thoughts on why audio on the Android platform needs to be fixed:

As some of us have discovered very quickly, audio latency on Android is high.

There have been some efforts showing that given the right software support, lower latencies are possible. The crucial point however is this: do we want to develop for a custom system?

The answer, as far as I am concerned is no. In my view, we need to use the OS as-is, off-the-shelf. Customized systems, rooted devices, etc., might be good for playing around, but it is not a productive way to go. Eventually, we would like the user down the street to be able to run our apps on her/is device.

Latency, in this context, is a measure of the delay between a user taking an action and hearing the results. This doesn’t really matter for apps like music players, but can make music production apps unusable.

Latency on Android is currently a show-stopper for many types of music production apps, and this has been a thorn in developers sides for years. In  2011, developers were complaining about the fact that audio latency on some Android devices is  20 times the latency on comparable iOS devices. And from a developers perspective, Android audio is going nowhere fast.

Maybe Google just wants people to have Google’s applications and ads on their phones. Or maybe music and audio apps don’t rank high on their priorities.

But, for now, the state of audio in the Android OS means that the potential of Android devices for music and audio apps is going untapped.

“There is enough in Android to make it a very good platform for what we do, we only need the latency issue addressed,” notes Lazzarini. “Hopefully, they are hearing this loud and clear.”

20 thoughts on “Audio On Android Needs To Be Fixed

    1. “In my view, we need to use the OS as-is, off-the-shelf. Customized systems, rooted devices, etc., might be good for playing around, but it is not a productive way to go. Eventually, we would like the user down the street to be able to run our apps on her/is device.”

  1. “Doesn’t work” is NOT the same as “wasted potential”

    My car is NOT wasting potential as a flying machine, it is simply not made for that.

      1. Agreed Toby, and a few drum machines, maybe some generative music apps, some art apps, oh and a few mp3s and mp4s, office apps, great games, er what else?oh yeah a phone to boot:)

        1. Lets go even further by adding effect processors and AWESOME multipaged and feature enhancing midi controllers and sequencers for hardware synthesizers. Those touch knobs and sliders bring some obscure synthesizers from 80’s-90’s back to the future!

          Every parameter from FS-1R brought up from menus as sliders and knobs!?!?!? YES SIR!!!!! That alone is worth an iPad! Even seeing 4 x 8 sliders x 6 pages of that monsters parameters makes me hard!

          Or Blofeld? No prob…

    1. I cant play my guitar or keyboard waiting in line at the DMV…..but i certainly can play my “fucking” iphone….and that is…..”fucking” awesome.

    2. Well, the iPhone seems to be doing well enough as more than just a phone in billions of people’s eyes, do you watch the news??

  2. Well, I’ve been polite up to now about the app haters but, lol, I am switching!

    First, yes android sucks as a platform intended for anything other than phone calls and at best, note taking, even the games suck and are slow, so there is no point even contemplating music apps on android. So that’s your phone, keep it to make phone calls.

    Second, if you want to make “real” music and are upset about apps, don’t read sites like this, go buy a guitar and look for sites called guitartopia as synthtopia is just open minded and discussing possibilities and limitations in any area that appeals to the readers and editors, in other words, it’s impartially giving information

    Third, many of us actually CAN and WILL make music on iPhones, iPads and iPods because apple have facilitated such by making an unparalleled platform upon which developers can make apps that can cater for this NEED. And it IS a need, and so much so, you just have to go and see the news to get an idea, like BILLIONS of apps have been sold.

    Whatever method one chooses to make music, wether it be guitar, phone, tablet, synth or whatever is a SECONDARY consideration, the primary one being that people have a creative output and that is really what it’s all about and should be honoured.

    So, app or phone dissers, go do the research and please just let app enthusiasts alone? You are wasting energy and polluting decent sites and blogs like this. Despite your whinings, apple gets richer and better by the month it seems and people are happy to buy products that actually perform.

    I think part of the iOS appeal is that it’s so portable and apps are affordable, sure we can spend thousands on a home studio and some who have that also have an idevice which they can take with them anywhere and carry on working. And yet, another type of person chooses to use iOS music apps alone and from what I’ve heard, it’s as good as done in the regular way, some even being released on record labels and selling.

    There are apps capable of fine production and they sell, why? Because they do the job.

    Let people choose the tools they want, but for sure, the only use for android is to make phone calls, and maybe if you are lucky, do a little note taking or art.

  3. “polluting decent sites and blogs” — Really? Let’s get a little behaviorist about this and use numbers.

    My one line post used 113 characters.

    Your rant used 2,213 characters.

    There might be blog pollution at work but (as old time computer people might expect) if there is it’s kind of the opposite from what apple fans are humming.

    1. Theres always the quality too. 113 characters worth(and counting) poisonous gas leak is worse than 2,213 characters worth of water vapor.

  4. As technology progresses, it is obvious that apps will expand in features and functionality. Naturally, the android platform will eventually adapt a funtional API for audio production content. It’s only a matter of time. In fact, it is my assertion that, given the prevailing flexibility of the platform as a whole, as well as the ever-diversifying availability of increasingly powerful devices, android will eventually take throne as the go-to platform.

    In response to the unrelated “flame war” taking place: this sounds like the same old argument. Software vs hardware, modeling vs analog, android vs apple, etc. It doesn’t matter. Weather you prefer to poke away at your ipad or fiddle the knobs of your andromeda, at the end of the day you’re just playing with your toys. If you so happen to make enjoyable music with your toy, praise you. If you so happen to make incoherent noise with your toy, praise you too.

  5. I recently got an Android phone. It’s nice enough (especially the navigation, camera and e-Mail capabilities), but audio applications are sadly limited to sequencers. There’s some fun to be had (want to play a song that would otherwise require that you take some more pieces of gear, just take the phone instead) with the sequencing type synths and drum machines on Android. So, I’d very much like to see some more happening in that direction. But I won’t be holding my breath and not even pretend that my device will get the needed software update if and when it comes out.

  6. @Ecques_de the problem is not the API… there are already two that do the job, in C and un Java. There is support for C or Cpp programming. Everything is in place, except for a reasonably low latency. When that is fixed, we are going to have a great platform for audio, that is open and flexible.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *