Jelly Bean brings USB Audio support to Android devices

Digging into the new features and capabilities present in Jelly Bean, one item we have discovered is the addition of USB Audio. Support for USB Audio means audio from a Jelly Bean based device can be accessed via the USB port. This presents an alternative to streaming audio through the external speaker jack or a Bluetooth connection.

Using USB Audio, hardware makers will be able to build audio dock devices to interface with Android powered phones and tablets. A good example of this was an Android.Connect dock on display from Gear4 during Google I/O.  Check out the video after the break showing how this will work.

As the Gear4 video demonstrates, the ability to carry audio over USB opens some possibilities for the design of hardware that minimizes complexity. Plugging in multiple cables (e.g. audio cable for sound and USB cable for charging) or pairing up Bluetooth will no longer be necessary. According to Gear4, an app is in development that will enable backwards compatibility with Gingerbread and ICS devices so they too can carry audio via the USB cable. Unfortunately, the app was not available at Google I/O.

Can you think of other devices for which the presence of USB Audio opens the development door? Is there a particular accessory you hope will now be available thanks to this new capability?

source: Android Developer site

About the Author: Jeff Causey

Raised in North Carolina, Jeff Causey is a licensed CPA in North Carolina. Jeff's past Android devices include an HTC EVO, a Samsung Note II, an LG G3, and a Motorola Moto X Pure Edition along with a Samsung Galaxy Tablet 10.1. He currently uses a Samsung Galaxy S8 and (very rarely) a Nexus 7 (2013). He is also using a Verizon-branded Motorola Moto Z Play Droid supplied by his job. Jeff used to have a pair of Google Glass and a Moto 360 Sport in his stable of gadgets. Unfortunately, his kids have all drunk the Apple Kool-Aid and have i-devices. Life at home often includes demonstrations of the superiority of his Android based devices. In his free time, Jeff is active an active runner usually training for his next marathon, owns a MINI Cooper, and plays Dungeons & Dragons. Jeff has three mostly grown kids and a golden retriever.

  • Gabe

    How about cars that have a USB input? I have been waiting for this since I switched over from my iPhone.

    • Nudo

      Let’s hope so! That would be awesome

    • hnldriver

      Depends on your vehicles head unit… mine has a after market head unit and it has a USB + a audio in (headphone) jack…

    • Brandito

      Let’s hope it’s backwards compatible, just bought a double din sony head unit with usb, though logically I’m assuming it will never work with current devices.

  • Lenny

    Would love to see the options for USB connected external GPS

  • Justin A

    This allows all the funky speaker docs to start working with Android…

  • Hemant Pokharel

    wht abt internet pass through option in all android device.

  • The New Fulcrum Point

    Jelly Bean is making many changes like USB audio support to android devices, it’s very nice.

  • Christian Unhold

    Bluetooth audio uses compression and the headphone output on most devices is of bad quality. The uncompressed USB audio is the best solution to connect to Hi-Fi systems.

  • Caleb Woodbridge

    As a podcaster, I’m hoping that this will mean recording using a USB mic will become possible on Android tablets. iOS supports this, but Android hasn’t until now, but if it did, it would make an Android tablet a much more useful device for me.

  • Josh Danby

    Obvious one here is support for external USB audio devices if this was possible. if they had the hardware it could be pretty cool recording into your phone on the go. Also the new android claims to address the issue of low-latency audio.

  • rob b

    Conference phones. Turn your touchpad into a conferene phone (eg voip/sip client). Current polycom and other conference phones cost a mint, and are fairly lousy really. Someone could make a killing by making a microphone + speakerphone docking combo to work with an android touchpad.

  • Bradley Parker

    My Yamaha mixing console come to mind, there is an entire plethora of professional and prosumer USB audio interfaces out there. How about an Audio Technica studio mic? Would make a great little bootleg shack or musical notebook.

  • Ryan Brown

    i want an akai fly pad for android tablets. turns the ipad into an mpc. but i would settle for my korg PadKontrol.

  • Voice Artist

    If I could plug a USB microphone into a Droid and record like I can with my iPhone, I’ll switch back to Droid in a heartbeat. That’s the only reason I had to bail on Droids and go for iPhones, business has gotten so that I have to always be able to record on a moment’s notice, and the ability to record with nothing more than an Apogee Mic and an iPhone has been liberating. So far the variations between the Droid OS and manufacturers has made it impossible for developers to write a single audio driver that will work on every Android device, so I’m hopeful Jellybean can pull it off.

  • Glymps

    When is it coming? Bluetooth is not reliable or clear enough for me.

  • Fred

    I want to play my Yamaha keyboard and record directly to my android devices… Can I do this now with USB? Why not with the audio cable?

  • Marx Marvelous

    No. The only thing JB did was make it so almost no stereos recognize the phone or play music off of it over usb anymore. We actually USED to have USB audio on ICS and GB but now it is gone. Rubbish that you would post this