Qualcomm’s aptX codecs are now more accessible with AOSP Integration
The last decade has seen significant improvements in Bluetooth audio quality, however the mobile industry’s decision to remove the headphone jack has been frustrating. Qualcomm’s aptX HD has led the way with high-clarity codecs, but in order to utilise it, the audio must be encoded in the right format and the wireless headphones should be able to decode it. Fortunately, a recent move by Qualcomm makes aptX codecs more accessible to manufacturers.
Like Sony’s AAC codec, aptX requires licensing. Manufacturers need to pay Qualcomm a high licensing fee to use aptX and aptX HD encoders in their devices. AOSP integration is a recent move by Qualcomm and now aptX encoders are available under the Apache license for free, meaning any developer using a custom Android-based ROM can add support for Qualcomm aptX or aptX HD without the need for a license. This opens the door for more devices to support the hi-fi wireless audio format going forward.
It is important to note that other aspects of aptX, such as the decoder on the receiving end of the Bluetooth connection, will still incur a licensing fee if accessed. Nonetheless, we could see more Android OEMs and custom ROMs access the high-end audio features now that there is one less hurdle to overcome.
This development may also benefit Samsung and Honor phones, which have not previously supported aptX HD as a result of licensing fees. Previously manufacturers paid $6,000 as a one-time payment, plus a per-device fee to access the encoder. AptX encoders are now a part of the AOSP Apache license, allowing manufacturers to access the codecs for free. Despite being a notable change, the average Android user may not realise the benefits of this development straight away.