Android 4.4 brings support for low-power audio playback

Android 4.4 brings support for low-power audio playback
Battery life – there's no smartphone owner who would mind having more of it. Even the best smartphones out there would have a hard time getting a hardcore user through more than two days of usage. And that sucks, doesn't it? Thankfully, Android 4.4 KitKat brings a tweak that will give battery life a slight boost. With the new version of the operating system, Google allows audio to be tunneled straight to the digital signal processor on the smartphone's chipset. This means that the DSP takes care of audio decoding and output effects, which reduces CPU usage and increases battery life as a result.

How much is battery life increased with this new technique? Well, real-life results will vary depending on how often you listen to music on your device, of course. The Google Nexus 5, for example, can last for 60 hours when playing music through a headset with its screen off. That's a 50% increase compared to a case when no DSP tunneling is applied. 

Google notes that music playback isn't the only usage scenario that will benefit. Basically, any app that plays sound in one way or another, including the video player and video games, can take advantage of DSP tunneling. Best of all, no code modifications are needed as the system handles the process automatically.

Unfortunately, for the trick to work, support is required by the smartphone or tablet's hardware. Currently, The Android 4.4 powered Google Nexus 5 is compatible with DSP tunneling, but it isn't clear if any existing devices can take advantage of it once they are updated.

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10 Comments

1. ocilfa

Posts: 334; Member since: Aug 03, 2012

Crossing fingers for my Nexus 10 with Wolfson DAC.

3. Pedro0x

Posts: 271; Member since: Oct 19, 2012

That would be awesome, I still have SGS 1 with the WM8994 and it is still unbeaten (with voodoo sound ofcourse). Wolfson makes the best DACs in phones.

8. JC557

Posts: 1917; Member since: Dec 07, 2011

It's also the reason why I still buy Cowon audio players and still hold onto the older iPods. Cirrus is getting to be quite good but definitely nowhere near a Wolfson.

2. Pedro0x

Posts: 271; Member since: Oct 19, 2012

This is a good feature. I certainly do not mind a better battery life :). But I hope that Google fixed that bloody mediaserver that kicks in when I am either watching films or listening to music because it takes a a big toll on my battery.

6. kozza3

Posts: 777; Member since: Oct 17, 2012

didn't that have to do with your sd cache?

4. avasponge

Posts: 44; Member since: May 03, 2012

now the question is, how are the speakers on the nexus 5?

9. JC557

Posts: 1917; Member since: Dec 07, 2011

Even though it may add some weight and take space, I'm wondering why nobody made their own version of HTC's BoomSound speakers. If my phone is to serve as a mini media center and a smallish tablet then I'd want good speakers to go with it. Plus my ringtones need to be heard when my phone is under all my work gear. I'd like a Motorola Droid MAXX with dual speakers and a Wolfson DAC to go with it.

5. Tsepz_GP

Posts: 1126; Member since: Apr 12, 2012

I hope my Galaxy S4 Octa with Wolfson DAC can do this :D

7. pyradark

Posts: 895; Member since: Jun 10, 2012

Yeah!! My z ultra is getting 100hrs of audio playback!! Love the features screen recorder!! Hope sony will bring it to 4.5!!!

10. 14545

Posts: 1835; Member since: Nov 22, 2011

Wonder if the S4 has compatible hardware. (the 600 version.)

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