What’s Up With Web Audio?

27 Jun

We already have the audio tag of course, but I'm talking about more advanced applications like real-time audio synthesis and processing. I see that kind of thing as an analogy to the canvas tag, where audio is the analogy to the video tag. We have canvas, audio, and video, but we don't yet have a standard for this other thing.

A couple of recent events got me asking around about web audio.

* At HackCamp (http://london.hackcamp.org.uk/), some clever hackers created a pure Javascript graphic equaliser. Awesome you can do it, but unfortunately not possible to do it cross-browser at this time, as the guys had to use the Mozilla-specific Audio Data API (https://wiki.mozilla.org/Audio_Data_API).
* I went along to drinks following World of Love, the recent indie games developers conference in London, as I've been speaking to a some indie game developers about charging for their apps on the Chrome Web Store and wanting to understand the state of the industry better. Most important message is that indie gaming is alive and well and had a revival over the last few years thanks to various platforms. As for web games, one of the issues right now with is audio: at this stage, Flash is still required for more complex use cases. Thanks to SoundManager (http://www.schillmania.com/projects/soundmanager2/), there's a bridge for Javascript developers to do some of this stuff; but still, we are missing a more powerful, standards-based, approach to audio.

So I asked around and found some interesting work is going on:

* First, there is the Moz API, as I mentioned. https://wiki.mozilla.org/Audio_Data_API
* … And a new W3C Audio Incubator Group http://www.w3.org/2005/Incubator/audio with mailing list??http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-xg-audio/.

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