This particular rumor comes from 9to5Google (opens in new tab), which has been doing some detective work around Google’s upcoming phones. The site starts by noting that a change to Android’s code offers a way for phones to have “higher quality” or “higher bandwidth” options by default.
We know Android 13 already has some initial support for Bluetooth LE Audio, but a developer discussion (opens in new tab) points at this change being directed at the Pixel 7, Pixel 7 Pro and Pixel 7a.
In the chat, one developer asks if a file, labelled “le_audio_codec_setting”, is meant to be installed, or if it’s an example. The response is that it is an example, and that installation for “p22/p23a” is different.
That’s shorthand for Pixel phones, with p22 apparently referring to the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro, while p23a is the Pixel 7a — currently expected to arrive sometime next year. This suggests that Bluetooth LE Audio support is coming to the Pixel 7 range, paving the way for the devices to support the next generation of wireless audio products.
Bluetooth LE Audio is set to make wireless earbuds even more efficient than before. That's partly about power efficiency — which is good for battery life — but it also promises more efficient audio compression thanks to the new LC3 codec. This can be set to use more or less data, depending on what’s required, and can supposedly adjust itself on the fly to compensate for interference.
Bluetooth LE Audio also gives devices the ability to send audio to both earbuds simultaneously, rather than sending it to a single bud and relaying it to your other ear. Likewise, the ‘Auracast’ feature enables one device to broadcast the same audio to multiple speakers or headphones
The downside is that the Bluetooth LE Audio standard was only finalized in July, meaning the hardware capable of reaching its full potential hasn’t been released yet. Anyone wanting to try it out will need both a device and a receiver that supports the standard. That means a new phone and a fresh set of earbuds.
By potentially adding support to the Pixel 7 range, it means Google is taking a firm step towards wider Bluetooth LE Audio adoption. Combined with the changes coming with Android 13, it means your Pixel 7 should gain the benefits of the new standard once compatible earbuds and audio products hit the market.
Of course, Google isn't the only player in the smartphone and earbuds space, and the rumored Apple AirPods Pro 2 are also tipped to come with Bluetooth LE Audio. The new 'buds are expected to be launched at the Apple September event next week, so watch this space for more.