Apps, Mobile & SMS

Why Android Sucks For Many Audio Apps: A Developer Dishes The Dirt

Android-591x332Guest post by Eliot Van Buskirk of

Oh, how we wish we could divulge the source of this information, because A) It comes from the developer of a pretty nice app; B) It’s fairly juicy information, if music apps are your thing; and C) We hate quoting anonymous sources.

Nonetheless, we’re going to publish this anyway, because it’s so interesting, and the source has no apparent motivation to make this up — however, he/she does have a reason to remain anonymous (i.e. staying in the good graces of Google and its Android app store staffers). Besides, we have now given the Google Android PR person we contacted about this nearly 24 hours to respond to this developer’s specific complaints, after he got back to us initially fairly quickly, and he has yet to do so.

Here’s how it all started: We emailed the developer asking about the Android version of the app, which is apparently in the works. He/she responded,

Excuse delay, trying to get Android working!
A disaster of an OS for audio!

Naturally, our curiosity was piqued. We asked for more detail and heard back as follows (edited slightly for clarity):

1. Android OS provides just one API for volume control. The problem is, there is a need for at least two types of volume control: overall output volume and media/music volume. This means manufacturers have to implement their own way of controlling the media/music volume. Unfortunately, each manufacturer does this differently, and there’s no way of finding out how they did it until you test each individual model. To make matters worse, Samsung used an inefficient way to control the hardware and media volumes, and deliberately feeds some of the hardware output to the microphone input. This creates audio mayhem.

2. Android OS is shockingly inefficient in dealing with real-time audio. The operating system adds about a seven second delay, and the hardware adds a further five or six seconds, making the default delay 12-13 seconds overall. We have managed to reduce the real-time delay to around half a second (500ms) or less, which we believe is is the best achieved on Android to date. [Ed. note: the iPhone version doesn't include perceptible delay.]

3. Hundreds of screen size and resolutions make it impossible to have a one-size-fits-all UI graphics set. [Ed. note: Obviously, this complaint isn't exclusive to audio app developers, and we've heard it plenty of times before.]

For now, users are still waiting for this app to hit Android, even though the developer has been working on it for months. We’ll keep you posted. For now, though, given Google’s radio silence on the issue, we assume it has no way to address any of these three fairly serious complaints.

Image courtesy of Flickr/Saad Irfan

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  1. Yes, definitely congrats to Alec. I just saw him at Mobilize, interviewed him, and he was pretty stoked about being at RIM. It was time for him to move on from Calliflower as they machine was running itself.

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