Android 13 has already rolled out to eligible Google Pixel smartphones. But there’s more news for everyone who has either received or is about to receive the milestone update. While the audio output switcher has been present on Android smartphones for a while, Google has been spotted working on adding cast devices to the menu, letting users swap playback between all types of devices and not just those connected and paired via Bluetooth. A demo of the audio playback on an Android 13 device switching between devices or multiple cast devices also details how the feature could work when it comes to Android 13.
According to a blog post by Esper Technical Editor, Mishaal Rahman, Google has finally decided on reviving the feature which was originally set to appear on Android 11. An update to the Google Cast SDK has now revealed that Android 13 can output to not just local devices (Bluetooth devices) but also to remote devices (cast devices). A demo posted by Rahman shows how audio playback can simultaneously switch between devices (local or remote) or to multiple cast devices at once. The new stream expansion feature basically lets users transfer their media sessions from their phone to any cast device on their network which could be something like a smart display or even a smart speaker. Users can even add cast devices to their media sessions directly from the lock screen without the need to unlock their smartphone.
FINALLY! Google is reviving a feature originally planned for Android 11: the ability to pick from Google Cast targets in the audio output switcher! This now requires Android 13, though.
Here’s a first look and a sneak peek at an upcoming enhancement to the feature 👀 pic.twitter.com/X7sCJdWRTz
— Mishaal Rahman (@MishaalRahman) October 14, 2022
Google has been working on the feature for a long time but for reasons best known to the search giant, the feature was never released. However, there is a catch, and it involves support from app developers.
The output switcher feature was introduced with Android 11, but it has since then only shown local options being able to switch audio output between Bluetooth devices, such as speakers and earphones. Rahman believes that Google pulled support for the feature after introducing it and propagating it to developers back in 2020, which is why it never took off even though the necessary tools to make it happen were available. With everything now in place once again, it’s just a matter of time after which apps should start widely supporting the stream expansion feature making the output switcher a lot more useful.
Google recently started rolling out an update to its Google Search app, letting users customise the Google Search widget directly from the home screen instead of digging deep into the app’s settings. The widget, just like the audio output switcher, is not limited to Google Pixel branded smartphones but is available on all smartphones running Android 13.