Howler.js simplifies browser audio

GoldFire Studios has released Howler.js to help simplify audio in the browser.

GoldFire Studios's CEO James Simpson said, although animation has come on in leaps and bounds along with other technical advancements (file system access, offline apps), browser audio had lagged behind.

HTML5 Audio, according to Simpson, is fine for music but not when you need low-latency precision feedback, such as for sound effects. Web Audio API is better for the immediate feedback required by apps and games, but currently lacks widespread support and is relatively complex. Because of these drawbacks, Simpson said developers of online games have largely settled for HTML5 Audio with a Flash fallback, which isn't great when more users are flocking to mobile platforms that can't install the Flash plug-in.

In order to deal with such problems, GoldFire Studios created and released the Howler.js library to default to the Web Audio API and use HTML5 Audio as a fallback. Simpson said it “greatly simplifies the API and handles all of the tricky bits automatically”.

Through automation and ease of use, Simpson said he now believed that audio in the browser was ready for use beyond basic streaming: “The tools are already in today’s modern browsers. High quality audio support is here today, and Web Audio API and HTML5 combine to offer truly plug-in-free, cross-browser audio support. Browser audio is no longer a second-class citizen, so let’s all stop treating it like one and keep making apps for the open web.”

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