New aptX bundle understands what you’re listening to, chooses the best settings

Qualcomm’s aptX audio technology is about to go through a major change, except rather than launch another new format or a revision of a current technology, it’s making those that already exist easier and more accessible. Qualcomm’s aptX Adaptive bundles aptX, aptX HD, and low latency aptX together into one, which is clever enough to dynamically switch to the best option depending on what you’re listening to.

A fascinating advancement, this is Qualcomm looking closely at how we all use mobile devices, and what kind of audio is best suited to our use. The regular aptX codec makes regular Bluetooth music playback sound great on supported devices in comparison with non-aptX Bluetooth streaming; but if you’re listening to high-resolution (aka HD) music files, playing games, or watching movies, there are better aptX codecs to use.

Rather than forcing the use of specific headphones, or a specific device, aptX Adaptive will understand you’re watching a movie or playing a game, and switch to a low latency setting. The advantages of low latency are often only associated with gaming, but it’s also essential for lip syncing in movies when listening over Bluetooth. It’s the same if you’re listening to a high-resolution file, when aptX HD will kick in. Mobile devices are called upon to do many different things, and wrapping all these codecs into one will make life considerably easier for many of us.

Metadata driven

Qualcomm’s new aptX Adaptive bundle takes advantage of metadata in associated files to work out what settings to use, and that’s it. It’s backwards compatible, doesn’t require any configuration, and will dynamically adjust without any input from you. Digital Trends asked Qualcomm if the metadata is freely available, or if aptX Adaptive needs special treatment before it will work. Jonny McClintock, Qualcomm’s Director of aptX Sales and Marketing, said there may be some “hand holding” at first, as it’s the first time Qualcomm has used metadata to drive a technology, but most music files, games, and films should have everything aptX Adaptive needs already.

With its new bundle, Qualcomm has also addressed some problems many have experienced with Bluetooth in the past, saying it’s concentrated on making it more robust in order to deliver a consistent audio experience. The company is also confident about sound quality. In independent tests, carried out by experts at Salford University in Manchester, U.K., there was no significant difference between aptX Adaptive at 420kbit/s and original linear audio at 24bit/96kHz recordings.

Like other aptX technologies, both your source device and your headphones/speakers will need to have aptX Adaptive inside to operate, so manufacturers must choose to use it. At launch, it will support 24bit/48kHz file resolution, with an update to 24bit/96kHz coming in the future.

When is it coming, and what do you need to take advantage of aptX Adaptive? Qualcomm is ready to supply the decoder to companies now, for use in Bluetooth headphones and speakers, and the encoder will be available for Android 9.0 Pie in December. (As with all aptX codecs, iOS devices still don’t support the new bundle.) It will also be part of a future Qualcomm Snapdragon mobile processor.

The first products with aptX Adaptive are slated for release in summer 2019.

Home Theater

The European Audio Team’s B-Sharp turntable is a family heirloom in the making

European Audio Team's B-Sharp turntable offers high-end buyers gorgeous sound and an astonishing build quality, making it a fantastic choice for those who are looking for a lifelong addition to their audio arsenal.

Don't spend hundreds on Pro Tools or Logic. Try one of these free alternatives

Believe it or not, Pro Tools isn't the only digital audio workstation worth your time. Check out our picks for the best free recording software, whether you're looking for a lightweight app or a full-blown audio workstation. Updated meta…
Home Theater

Audio-Technica ATH-Sport7KW and ATH-CKR7TW Impressions

Audio-Technica knows one-size doesn’t always fit everyone, announcing two pairs of true wireless headphones in its first foray into the space. One pair is designed for active use, with a super secure fit, and the other for a more relaxed…
Product Review

Master and Dynamic's MW07 take true wireless in-ear headphones to the next level

Premium audio brand Master and Dynamic has taken aim at the more elegant (and higher-rolling) side of the true wireless headphone market with its new MW07 model, designed for those who are after gorgeous looks and the best possible sound.
Social Media

A lot less clutter! Twitter relaunches purely chronological timeline

If you still miss the reverse-chronological timeline that Twitter ditched two years ago and you're fed up with all of the extra algorithmic tweets appearing in your feed, there's now a way to return it to how it used to be.

Withings reclaims its brand with the new Steel HR Sport hybrid watch

After repurchasing itself from Nokia, Withings is back with the new Steel HR Sport fitness tracker. The hybrid sports watch may look familiar, but any resemblances to Nokia's Steel HR are only skin-deep.

Overheating problems may force Apple to extinguish the AirPower charger

At its September event last year, Apple unveiled the AirPower -- its new wireless charging mat that will allow you to charge multiple devices at one time. It has not yer been released. Here's everything we know about the device so far.

Google’s Family Link expands globally, now works on more devices

Google's Family Link app makes it easier for parents to keep track of their kids' smartphone usage. They can restrict them from downloading apps, see which services they use the most, and more. Here's everything you need to know.

Just $100 buys you this super tough — and very cool — G Shock fitness watch

Casio has announced a new Bluetooth-connected fitness watch in its G Shock line. The GBD-800 has an all-new digital display, fitness tracking technology, a classic G Shock look, and an attractive price.

Black Friday 2018: When it happens and where to find the best deals

Black Friday is the biggest shopping holiday of the year, and it will be here before you know it. If you can't wait until November 23 to start formulating a shopping plan, we've got you covered.

Memoji in iOS 12 lets you create an avatar that looks and moves just like you

Apple's Memoji feature on iOS 12 allows you to send a customize Animoji that looks exactly like you. In comparison to other apps that allow you to make your own custom avatar, Memoji doesn't overcomplicate it.

Here’s how to use Apple’s augmented reality Measure app in iOS 12

Included within iOS 12, the Measure app uses Apple's ARKit to measure objects and spaces in the real world with your camera. Using the app, you can measure a piece of furniture, the distance between points, and more.

Google Play rewards system arrives in Japan, no sign of U.S. release yet

After some rumors, Google has finally revealed the existence of Google Play Points. But for now, it's only available in Japan, and there's no indication of when a U.S. or worldwide release is planned.

Dozens of bite-sized features add up to a feast in Android 9.0 Pie

Google’s latest version of Android is here, and it’s called Android 9 Pie. We’ve been using it for the past few months on a Google Pixel to see how this flavor stacks up.