Google introduced a new pattern earlier this month with a beta program for the upcoming June Feature Drop for Pixel devices, and it seems that the update had some useful changes behind the scenes. Pixel 6 now supports “Direct USB Access,” which opens the door to better DAC support.

“Direct USB Access” in Android 12 is described by Google as a path to allow apps on a smartphone to directly access an external DAC (digital-to-analog converter). This, in turn, would open up support to more USB DACs as well as improving support within apps.

As highlighted by the folks over at XDA, a Twitter thread by @mile_freak07 offers a look at this functionality in action. The change was ported back to the March update and successfully offered hi-res playback using a DragonFly Red DAC using both the HiBy app and Neutron Player. Tidal, a streaming service known for its support for hi-res music files, doesn’t yet work with the new functionality, and Universal Audio Player Pro apparently fell in the same camp.

So far, the feature has only been confirmed for the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, and it’s unclear if Google will add support to older Pixels when this update rolls out.

Image: @mile_freak07

The good news here, though, is that this feature is just getting started. As it stands today, the June 2022 Feature Drop will likely deliver this “Direct USB Access” feature to Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, though it’s always possible Google could delay it to a later release. This is also great news, as it would potentially solve some of the DAC issues that users noticed on Pixel 6 back when it launched.

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Ben Schoon

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