Here’s a first look at Bluetooth audio sharing in Android 15

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Mishaal Rahman / Android Authority

TL;DR

  • Android 15 is adding a dedicated audio-sharing page that lets you listen in or start broadcasting audio, and we have an early look at the feature.
  • One of the most hyped features of the new Bluetooth LE Audio standard is Auracast, which enables broadcasting audio from one device to two or even more nearby devices.
  • Android has had basic support for Bluetooth LE Audio and Auracast since Android 13, but they’re set to be better supported in Android 15.

When you’re traveling with friends or family, there may come a time when your group wants to listen to some audio together, whether it’s from a movie or an album. However, sharing audio with a big group can be challenging, especially because there’s no standardized way to do so. Bluetooth is only designed to stream audio from one source device (like your phone) to one sink device (like your headphones), so it’s out of the question. Fortunately, that’s where the newer Bluetooth LE Audio standard and its Auracast feature come in.

Auracast is a feature of the Bluetooth LE Audio standard that enables broadcasting audio to nearby devices over Bluetooth Low Energy. What makes Auracast special is that the device doing the broadcasting (like your phone) doesn’t need to pair with the devices receiving the broadcast (like other peoples’ phones). Think of Auracast like your car’s radio, but instead of a giant radio tower broadcasting audio data over many miles to your car’s receiver, another phone’s tiny Bluetooth chip broadcasts an audio stream that your phone can listen in on.

Some smartphone makers have long offered audio-sharing features that utilize Bluetooth. However, these proprietary implementations typically require either a specific source device (as is the case with “Dual Audio” on Samsung Galaxy devices) or a specific sink device (as is the case with “Share Audio” on Apple iPhone devices). In contrast, Auracast is available to any audio device or platform that licenses and implements the technology from the Bluetooth SIG, the industry consortium that defines the Bluetooth standard.

Unfortunately, very few devices on the market have shipped with Auracast support, even though the feature was announced back in June 2022. That’s set to change, though, as the prerequisite Bluetooth LE Audio support has become somewhat of a standard feature for new audio products. In anticipation of these upcoming launches, Google is adding a dedicated “audio sharing” page in Android 15 that allows users to find, connect to, or start their own Auracast stream.

If this sounds familiar, it’s because I already wrote about this “audio sharing” page for Android Authority back in late January. The page even went live in Android 15 Developer Preview 2, but it wasn’t working for anybody.

With a bit of tinkering, though, I managed to fully enable the “audio sharing” feature on my Google Pixel 8 Pro running the latest Android 15 Beta 1.1 release. Once enabled, I was able to start an Auracast broadcast on my Pixel 8 Pro that my Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra and Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 were able to connect to. Both the Galaxy S24 Ultra and Galaxy Z Fold 5 were running Samsung’s One UI 6.1 update and were paired to Samsung’s Galaxy Buds 2 Pro, which support Auracast broadcasts.

Mishaal Rahman / Android Authority

To start an Auracast stream, I had to go to the new Settings > Connected devices > Connection preferences > Audio sharing page in Android 15. Then, I had to toggle “share audio” up top to begin the stream. Once my phone began streaming audio, a notification from “Bluetooth LE audio” appeared that told me I was “sharing media audio.” This notification also had buttons to “stop” the stream or open the “settings” for audio sharing. The media output switcher also reflected that I was now “sharing audio” instead of playing audio on “this phone.”

To control who could connect to my stream, I was able to manually pick the broadcast name and password under the “stream settings” header in the “audio sharing” page. Alternatively, I could tap the QR icon to open a page where an automatically generated QR code is shown that other people can scan to connect to my stream.

Android 15 audio sharing settings

Mishaal Rahman / Android Authority

I’m not sure if it’s because the “audio sharing” feature is unfinished in Android 15 or if it’s because of Samsung’s implementation, but my Samsung devices weren’t able to connect to my Pixel 8 Pro’s broadcast using the ID/password that I set. However, they were able to connect to my broadcast using the automatically generated password shown underneath the QR code (Samsung’s Auracast implementation doesn’t currently support scanning a QR code to join a broadcast).

In any case, once my two Samsung devices connected to my Pixel’s broadcast, I could confirm that the same audio was being played out of both pairs of Buds 2 Pro earbuds. The audio quality wasn’t great at first, but that’s because I had the “improve compatibility” option toggled, which reduces audio quality to help devices like hearing aids connect. The quality was much better after I disabled this option and restarted the stream.

Once connected, both Galaxy phones had media player notifications indicating that they were playing audio from “Mishaal’s Pixel 8 Pro” (the name of my Auracast stream). Of course, since Auracast is a one-way broadcast, neither device was able to control my Pixel’s media playback.

To find and connect to nearby Auracast streams in Android 15, you first need to connect a pair of earbuds that support Bluetooth LE Audio and Auracast. In my case, I paired my Galaxy Buds 2 Pro with my Pixel 8 Pro. Though my Pixel 8 Pro was able to find the Auracast session initiated by my Galaxy S24 Ultra, it wasn’t able to connect to it. Again, I’m not sure if this is because the “audio sharing” feature is unfinished in Android 15 or if it’s because of Samsung’s implementation.

Android 15 audio sharing streaming

Mishaal Rahman / Android Authority

Despite these issues, I’m incredibly excited about the launch of Android 15’s audio-sharing feature. Samsung and Apple users have long had the ability to share audio to two Bluetooth headphones, while other users would need to share earbuds or use an external Bluetooth transmitter to accomplish the same thing. Auracast standardizes audio sharing over Bluetooth and even enables sharing with more than two devices, eliminating the need to pick up a specific brand of smartphone or headphones. However, you’ll still need to grab devices that support Bluetooth LE Audio and Auracast, which are thankfully becoming more and more commonplace in the market.

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