Why you’ll want high definition haptics in your next smartphone

Did you feel this? The vibe of a new notification, that rumble of that movie explosion, the bounce during the close of that tense battle royal match? These are all powered by the haptics included in your smartphone. High-quality haptics can make or break the feel and feedback provided on a modern handset. Who wants a pathetic buzz when you can have loud, crisp, catchy clicks and rumbles?

While sometimes taken for granted, the use cases for haptic feedback are only growing and are quickly serving as a major product differentiator, especially when it comes to gaming. Similarly, haptics is also an important feature for accessibility, with Apple and Google, among others, using haptics to complement traditional visual cues on their smartphone user interface. The case for powerful haptic hardware is more compelling than ever.

Fortunately, advanced haptics features are already present with phones such as Google Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro. They’ll be heading to many more smartphones in 2022, thanks to new and improved advanced integration in Android 12.

Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority

For example, Google has introduced what it calls an “audio-coupled haptic effect,” which is another way of saying real-time audio-haptic or on-the-fly haptic generation. Google has incorporated this feature, and others, into its latest series of Pixel 6 smartphones, which are highly praised for their quality haptic feedback.

That’s because audio-coupled haptics converts an audio playback stream directly into a corresponding haptic stream, so you can feel that music, movie, or game in real time. Alternatively, you can associate a unique ringtone with each of your contacts, which, thanks to on-the-fly haptics, also produces a personalized vibration for them. This way you will know who is calling even with your phone on silent. The added benefit of on-the-fly haptics is that developers don’t have to hard-code haptic effects into their applications, saving valuable development time and costs.

Read more: What’s new in Android 12

Android 12 also introduces the ability to change vibration frequency and amplitude on a much more granular level. In other words, superior haptics with more variation and definition than was possible in the past. The latest operating system also brings better support for game controller vibrations. Many more handsets are expected to ship with these features as Android 12 makes its way to new and existing smartphones.

But to get the most out of these better-than-ever feedback features, the haptics hardware has to match, because the software can only do half the job. A haptic driver integrated circuit (IC) contains all the hooks needed to take Android’s API and run it through a haptic engine to produce the desired rumble.

Google Pixel 6 Haptics Settings

Cirrus Logic, which you might remember for its audio and speaker chips, offers such an IC solution for smartphones. Cirrus Logic’s HD haptic technology combines audio and haptic capabilities, eliminating the lag between what the user hears and feels. The Google Pixel 6 series, one of 2021’s most notable phones for haptics, features a Cirrus Logic CS40L25B haptic driver IC. Featuring low-latency haptic triggering, fast wake-up, and power-efficient amplification, this chipset provides everything a phone needs for a cutting-edge haptic experience.

Combined with the aforementioned on-the-fly haptics approach, Cirrus Logic offers a complete solution for cutting-edge haptics for ringtones, audio, video, games, and other emerging use cases. We anticipate many more smartphones intending to ship with world-class haptics throughout 2022 and beyond.

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