When Bluetooth Audio Latency Matters

Stephen Coyle:

This solution doesn’t work for sounds that start unpredictably, unfortunately. Taps on the screen happen when they happen, and all the system can do is rush the corresponding sounds to the Bluetooth receiver as quickly as possible. With most people used to streaming video and audio, a short delay after pressing play on a video feels acceptable, but when keyboard clicks don’t sync up with your fingers contacting the screen, it’s just unpleasant. […]

This latency is also a significant issue for an app I develop, Tapt. It’s a music game, which relies on tapping rhythms accurately in order to score points. When one needs to coordinate taps on the order of 100-200ms apart, latency is a problem (for any of my bluetooth gear anyway).

Apple has made this better with AirPods. Latency is noticeably better listening to say, keyboard clicks, than with my Beats Powerbeats 2. But it’s still noticeable.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016