Google debuted a new pattern earlier this month when it announced a beta program for the upcoming June Feature Drop for Pixel devices, and it appears that the upgrade included some useful tweaks behind the scenes. The Pixel 6 now has “Direct USB Access,” which allows for greater DAC support.
Google describes “Direct USB Access” in Android 12 as a way for programs on a smartphone to access an external DAC directly (digital-to-analog converter). As a result, additional USB DACs would be supported, and app support would be improved.
A Twitter thread by @mile freak07, as reported by the folks over at XDA, provides a peek at this functionality in action. The fix was pushed back to the March release, and both the HiBy app and Neutron Player successfully supported hi-res playback using a DragonFly Red DAC. Tidal, a streaming service famed for its high-resolution music support, isn’t yet compatible with the new feature, and Universal Audio Player Pro appears to be in the same boat.
The feature has only been confirmed for the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro so far, and it’s unclear whether Google will add support for previous Pixels once the update is released.
However, the good news is that this feature is only getting started. As of now, the June 2022 Functionality Drop is expected to provide this “Direct USB Access” feature to the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro. However, Google might easily delay it to a later release. This is also excellent news, as it may resolve some of the DAC difficulties that consumers reported with the Pixel 6 when it was first released.
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