When you stream music from an Android phone to a pair of wireless headsets, there is a very high likelihood that your devices will need a compression algorithm called AptX to deliver high-quality sound into that of a Bluetooth connection. Existing AptX options, however, have their limits. Qualcomm – the company behind AptX since 2015 – introduces a new version designed to increase and decrease the size of audio to meet the needs of any location.  The new version of AptX is called AptX Adaptive and its main feature is the ability to compress audio at a variable bitrate. In other words, if you're in an environment where there are many competing wireless signals, your phone can compress your audio to a smaller file size so it's easier to stream to your headphones. If you're in an empty room listening to music, AptX Adaptive lets you send a higher-bit-rate file for better audio quality.
Qualcomm says the capabilities of AptX Adaptive are not just responsive to signal strength. The codec will also take into account what kind of audio you're streaming ̵
AptX Adaptive is intended as a replacement for traditional AptX and the newer AptX HD. Its bitrate may actually be lower than normal AptX (up to 280kbps while AptX was 384kbps flat), but it can not reach as high as AptX HD (only up to 420kbps instead of 576kbps). Chris Havell, senior product marketing director at Qualcomm, says the limit is no worse audio, as compression improvements have allowed AptX to achieve the same level of quality with a smaller file size.
"Basically we improved the codec What you get at 576, you get now at 420," says Havell. Lowering the bitrate also means more bandwidth for resending data that has not been transmitted to your headphones, which means the connection could be stronger as well. Havell also says that AptX Adaptive does not just get stuck at these two points – 280kbps and 420kbps – it can fluctuate somewhere in between, depending on the situation.
AptX Adaptive will be integrated into Android Pie, so phones over the next year will have support for it. Havell says he expects headphones to arrive with AptX Adaptive support in the first half of 2019. These headphones will also be backwards compatible with older versions of AptX, so they will work even if your phone is not on the latest version of Android
Unfortunately, the iPhone does not support AptX, so this upgrade only affects Android phones. Beats headphones also do not use AptX, which means that customers will default to one of the most popular wireless headphone brands.
If you buy wireless headsets in the future, you can always check the box to see if you support AptX. Businesses need to license Qualcomm's technology, and part of the business is a requirement that it be announced on the packaging so you know it's there.