While Google launched the January security update, it also launched the January Pixel Feature Drop for the Pixel 6/7 series models, providing spatial audio support for eligible headphones.
Spatial audio, popularized by Apple’s AirPods Pro, is primarily about simulating a multi-speaker surround sound environment. Google has been working on the feature for the past few months, introducing relevant code in the Android 13 QPR1 beta released in September last year. This feature was briefly launched in the stable version, but Google has since withdrawn it.
There are not many models currently enjoying this feature, only Pixel 6, Pixel 6 Pro (Pixel 6a is not supported for now), and Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro four models.
The change, first spotted by Esper.io’s Android expert Mishaal Rahman, brings a new Spatializer API to Android that headphones can take advantage of to create a more powerful soundstage. While it looks like many earbuds and headphones are supported, of course, Google’s own Pixel Buds Pro will (eventually) provide the best experience.