It’s too bad Google’s latest earbuds don’t support it
The Pixel 6a might’ve just arrived on store shelves a month ago, but we’re already looking forward to what’s next from Google. 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. Thanks to an early reveal, we already know what both devices look like, but that doesn’t mean Google doesn’t have some surprises in store — specifically regarding audio streaming.
The folks at 9to5Google spotted some clues surrounding Bluetooth LE Audio support on Google’s lineup of upcoming phones. A recent code change spurred a developer to ask if the specific file in question was created as an example or if the file needed to be installed somewhere. In response, a colleague gives two examples of where this installation would come into play: “p22” and “p23a.”
Now, you don’t have to be Benoit Blanc to connect some dots with those codenames. The first, “p22,” refers to the 2022 mainline Pixel phones — the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro — while “p23a” refers to next year’s A-series entry, the Pixel 7a. Although support for Bluetooth LE Audio is included in Android 13, the standard itself was only finalized in July, meaning hardware products that support it — and more importantly, the new LC3 codec — haven’t shipped yet. This year’s Pixel flagships could be the first devices from Google to be compatible with Bluetooth LE Audio.
Bluetooth LE Audio is the latest enhancement to the wireless audio standard you probably rely on every day. Its LC3 codec can produce high-quality audio at a lower bitrate, improving battery life and, potentially, sound quality. It also brings support for Auracast audio sharing, which — at least, in theory — could make sharing between devices a common reality. Needless to say, it’s a big deal for your future devices, and that’s not even taking the future of hearing aids into account.
Unfortunately, it’s not enough for your next smartphone to include Bluetooth LE Audio. Your favorite pair of earbuds will also need to support it, and right now, that list is non-existent. The Pixel Buds Pro, specifically, shipped without Bluetooth LE Audio or LC3, and it’s unclear if a software update could mend that in the future. So while it’s great that the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro will launch ready for the future of wireless audio, your headphones might need a little more time to catch up.