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Android 12’s audio-coupled haptic effect is even cooler than it sounds



If you follow our blog, then I don’t need to tell you that Google released the first Android 12 version last week (seriously, we made a lot of comments on this). Although we are mainly focused on revealing unreleased features, today we step back and test an officially announced feature of the new operating system. The sound-coupled haptic effect is one of the coolest sound features in Android 12. This function effectively ensures that you can vibrate your phone based on an ongoing audio session. Google said that it will allow developers to create a more immersive game and audio experience. In practice, we must reach a consensus.

Developer kdrag0n recently introduced us to the Android 1

2 wallpaper-based theme system for the first time. He wanted to try the new audio-coupled haptic effect function, so he developed a quick app to see which Pixel phones support this function. According to the HapticGenerator API documentation, “HG is an audio post-processor that generates haptic data based on audio channels. The generated haptic data is sent to the audio HAL along with the audio data, which will require the device to support audio coupled haptic playback.” Unfortunately, , It seems that Google’s latest Pixel phones (ie Pixel 4a 5G or Pixel 5) do not support HapticGenerator. Google’s 2018 Pixel 3 does not seem to support it either (admittedly, we only tested the XL model), but fortunately, Google’s 2019 Pixel 4 supports it.

Google’s Pixel 4 supports the audio-coupled haptic effect of Android 12. Image source: XDA senior member cstark27

After confirming that Pixel 4 supports it, kdrag0n generated another application using the HapticGenerator API. This app will vibrate according to the music playing on the device, and the effect is better than we expected. These are two videos recorded by XDA senior member cstark27, showing the actual audio coupling tactile effect:

Silly Punk: Do it again

Fool Punk: Solar Sailor (Pretty Lights mix)

Google has played with audio-coupled haptics in the past, but the new features of Android 12 are more versatile than anything we’ve seen before from the company. With the help of Pixel 3, Google has prepared a custom vibration pattern to match every ordinary ringtone, but it is obviously impossible to create a custom vibration for every sound emitted by the speaker.

This is why I think Android 12’s new audio-coupled haptics may be one of the coolest features of the operating system, and why, unfortunately, Google’s latest Pixel phones seem to lack support for this feature. The correct tactile feedback can really enhance the smartphone experience. Although I can’t see many people use it to play music (how many people are holding their phones while playing music?), I can see how it can make the game more immersive on mobile devices.




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