iOS 14.6 Beta 1 Code Hints at Upcoming HiFi Apple Music Support

Apple is laying the groundwork for adding HiFi support to Apple Music which would offer ‌Apple Music‌ subscribers and owners of compatible devices, such as certain models of AirPods, access to high-fidelity audio streaming, according to code within the iOS 14.6 beta discovered by MacRumors.

apple music album cover art
Earlier today, a report claimed that Apple will announce a new $9.99 per month ‌Apple Music‌ tier that offers HiFi music streaming in the "coming weeks." Now, code within the first beta of iOS 14.6 discovered by MacRumors contributor Steve Moser confirms that Apple is exploring the option and preparing for a possible release.

Within the code for the first beta of the upcoming update, references to "lossless audio," "high-quality stereo streaming," and "HiFi" are found within the ‌Apple Music‌ app. Accompanying code within the beta suggests that HiFi streaming could be limited to only certain AirPods such as the AirPods Pro, AirPods Max, and newer.

Presumably, HiFi support would also be available to customers without AirPods, although it's unknown if Apple will have certain hardware requirements for speakers, headphones, etc.. to support HiFi ‌Apple Music‌ streaming.

Wording such as "Route Incompatible" and "Route Unknown Compatibility" suggests that much like how Spatial Audio is limited to only the ‌AirPods Pro‌ and ‌AirPods Max‌, HiFi ‌Apple Music‌ streaming could be exclusive to certain generation AirPods and other compatible devices.

Additional code within the beta suggests that Apple could incorporate a dynamic way for ‌Apple Music‌ to switch between standard, compressed audio streaming and high-fidelity streaming. On the iPhone 12 with 5G, Apple has a "Smart Data Mode," which automatically switches between a 5G and 4G/LTE connection depending on the user's current needs, connection strength, and battery life.

According to code within the beta, Apple may take a similar approach with HiFi support on ‌Apple Music‌, only offering users high-fidelity audio streaming when there's sufficient bandwidth or depending on other factors such as a user's data consumption.

Spotify has announced plans to include HiFi support for subscribers sometime this year but has yet to announce a specific date. Apple is reportedly preparing to announce the new HiFi tier as soon as a few weeks alongside the release of new third-generation AirPods. The new tier will reportedly cost the same as the current individual ‌Apple Music‌ tier.

Given the evidence that HiFi ‌Apple Music‌ support could be limited to only newer AirPods models, Apple may offer HiFi as a separate, more expensive tier for owners of compatible AirPods. Thus, customers with older AirPods would be able to retain their existing ‌Apple Music‌ subscription without HiFi support.

At WWDC last year, Apple did announce automatic switching for AirPods and Spatial Audio for ‌AirPods Pro‌ and newer AirPod products. With WWDC 2021 being just weeks away, Apple could announce the new ‌Apple Music‌ tier at the event, marketing them as an add-on feature for the third-generation AirPods.

Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo previously reported that the new AirPods would enter mass production in the third quarter of the year.

Top Rated Comments

MauiPa Avatar
9 months ago

Wait… what? The ONLY way that you will be able to listen to HiFi music is if you own AirPods?? What about through speakers and whatever home set up?

That seems like a very odd decision if true as that would push me straight to Spotify.
don't get all snickety over a rumor. As the above post points out there are various other alternatives that could easily support HiFi: Airplay2, AppleTV, Mac, HomePods. and while the current streaming is 250 kbit AAC for AirPods and AirPods Pro, the standard supports up to 320 kbit. that is without a different codec being supported (I'm not an expert, but I pretty much think the codec is software which would allow modifications), so that would say that AirPods, AirPods Pro, etc could also be potential targets.

Bottom line, its only a rumor at this point, so relax. Besides, Spotify doesn't pay the artists. If you are going to switch, go with a service that honors the artists at least as well as Apple Music.
Score: 22 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Sevenfeet Avatar
9 months ago

Well I'm an old guy too, and you miss the point. Music streaming services mostly compress the music (lossy) for streaming, a few services TIDAL, soon to be Spotify, and if this rumor is correct, Apple Music (there are others). HiFi streams are not lossy, or are much less lossy. For example, SBC is a pretty bad codec to stream music over your bluetooth to speakers and/or headphones, as is AAC on Android. AAC on Apple is considered as good as 320 OGG used by Spotify, and as good as aptx, but still they reduce the audio stream by compression and removing what the algorithms determine can't be heard anyway. HiFi refers to the less lossy ways of sending the music. many vendors have less lossy, or zero lossy, formats.

Does it matter? Probably not, unless you are talking about the crappy low end codecs. The better versions provide adequate detail and resolution for most ears (Music is pretty low in frequency in general <12000 kHz, although audiophiles will tell you there are harmonics with push the spectrum up to 20000khz). Most people can't hear the difference, but the HiFi enthusiasts, will swear they can. Of course being old, our ears have decreased sensitivity and frequency response - pity us
Music on Apple devices goes way back. I'm old enough to remember the first CD-ROM (SCSI based) back in 1989. Those first units mounted an audio CD to the desktop and you could literally drag songs to the hard drive. It was a cool feature and Apple even invented a file format for it called AIFF. The problem is that AIFF music files were usually 40-50 MB in size. That may not sound like a lot now, but back then the biggest hard drives in a Mac II were 80 MB, so two songs could fill up the whole thing.

Fast forward to the 90s and the MP3 format became the rage. You could take a 40MB music file and compress is down to 2 MB for a typical 128kbit file. With sizes that small (or smaller if you choose crappier compression), you could not only store all your CDs on a typical hard drive of the day, but you could even easily trade music, even on dial-up services. The downside was that lossy compression did degrade the quality of the music, but if you weren't listening on nice equipment (or just didn't care), then it was perfectly fine for you.

By the end of the 90s, a new format called FLAC was born, directed at audiophiles. The idea was to compress the music as best as possible biasing itself toward quick decompression. These files usually only have the size of an AIFF file, but the music quality didn't differ from the original CD it was ripped from.

But piracy was ravaging the music industry by 2001 when Apple introduced the iPod. Remember "1000 songs in your pocket"? Those original iPods had tiny 5 and 10 GB hard drives which made this possible combined with a new audio format from the same company who invented MP3 in the 90s. Called AAC, this format promised similar lossy audio compression with better quality. It was originally at 128kbit files but Apple upgraded that to 256kbit files which is what the iTunes Store and later Apple Music streaming have all supported.

Apple would add its own Lossless file format (ALAC) in 2003 which debuted on the 2003 iPod with dock connector. Interestingly enough, the original iPods between 2001 and 2002 always offered AIFF file compatibility for audiophiles who didn't mind having higher quality but far fewer songs in their pocket.

Not much has changed in the music delivery business since 256k AAC debuted but so much else has changed. Dial up gave way to broadband, and the iPod gave way to the iPhone. 2G cell data networks which barely transferred anything gave way to 3G and widely now, 4G LTE networks. Also, iPods which originally came with 5 gig hard drives now pale in comparison to iPhone 12 which begin with 64GB of flash storage and can be configured up to 256 GB, or even 512GB. To give some context to that, my entire ripped CD collection (30,000+ songs) collected over three decades compressed with ALAC is about 750 GB.

But with streaming, I don't even need that kind of storage on me if I can stream high fidelity lossless music to whereever I am. And in an age where Wifi and 4G LTE communication is everywhere and 5G has been making serious inroads in major cities, there's no excuse not to offer higher quality ALAC music when we've been streaming much bigger Youtube and Netflix video files without giving it a second thought. ALAC files on my hard drive are about 20-30 MB in size while AAC files are usually 5-8 MB. ALAC is biggest sure, but these days, it's a difference that doesn't matter much with most cell phone plans.

So CD-quality (16 bit/44.1Khz) ALAC is way overdue. But why stop there? Audiophiles moved on to 24 bit music with sampling rates from 44.1 khz all the way up to 192 or even 384 khz. And if you have the right equipment, the difference is noticeable. Even better, the "right equipment" is well within the reach of many consumers without reaching into lofty audiophile territory. Now what is called in the industry HiRes audio has file sizes from 100-200 MB each or larger. But again, it's still much smaller than video files we consume every day.

And streaming lossless files (FLAC format) have been available for a while from Amazon Music and Qobuz. Tidal offers HiRes music through a lossless format called MQA which is beyond the scope of this discussion.

But the bottom line is that I'd love for Apple to finally offer lossless CD quality music. And we know that Apple has HiRes music in the vaults....they often receive them from the artists before they are compressed to AAC. Will we see either? Time will tell but we've been waiting a decade so far with no luck. Curiously, iTunes (and later Apple Music) has dealt with not only ALAC files with HiRes ALAC for several years on your hard drive with no problems. Even MacOS knows what a FLAC file is and will even play it from the Finder.

Finally there is multi-channel atmospheric music like Sony 360 and Dolby Atmos. Atmos got started as a movie sound platform (lossless and lossy) but recently added music to its features which in the streaming world, is the same lossy format Apple already delivers via the Apple TV 4K. Dolby Atmos music is already a thing with Tidal on the Apple TV 4K assuming you have a proper receiver and speakers or compatible soundbar. Apple could easily deliver Atmos music on Airpod Pros, AirPod Max and HomePods much like they do for movies already.
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
spyguy10709 Avatar
9 months ago

I'm old guy, so I had to look up what HiFi supposedly refers to. I initially assumed it was either just another BS gimmicky name for better music quality with the streaming. What I read though is that HiFi is this new thing wherein you buy separate pieces/components of equipment to create your audio system. Really, new? Growing up in the 70s as a teenager we did that. You had a separate amplifier, a separate tuner, a separate record player, a separate tape deck, and later on a separate CD player. It was what we called a modular system made up of the components you wanted, along with separate speakers of course. Some even added separate reel to reel tap players as well. So if this is what young people are calling HiFi, well you are reinventing the darn wheel. With the advent of boomboxes and Walkmans in the 1970s and 1980s, the trend was to scale down to a bookshelf system which was still somewhat modular but much smaller. When the MP3 players became popular in the late 1990s and exploded in popularity after the iPods were introduced, smaller and pocketable became the fashion. Maybe the younger folks are oblivious to the old stereo systems of their grandparents era, but those old systems predate HiFi systems by half a century. So I have to wonder, is HiFi really just a gimmicky, BS term to refer to better audio quality? After all, AirPods hardly fit the description I've read for HiFi.
I think they're referring to "High Fidelity" digital encoding that's "lossless" - ie, a complete preservation of the original digital source file, as opposed to the "lossy" encoding that's used today - which is 3-5x more space efficient because it discards parts of the sound our ears are not likely to notice is gone.

Most people can't tell a high quality Lossy encoding from a lossless one, simply due to the low-fidelity headphones and speakers they're most likely to use. But those that can (or convince themselves they can) are usually quite interested in the subject as a hobby.

Check out - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychoacoustics if you want to learn more about how digital audio is stored and https://www.whathifi.com/ if this topic of high-quality digital sound is something that intrigues you!
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
verpeiler Avatar
9 months ago
If you really think you can hear the difference between a good mp3 and lossless, test yourself:

https://www.npr.org/sections/therecord/2015/06/02/411473508/how-well-can-you-hear-audio-quality?t=1619896374252

For 99,9% of the population it is completely pointless... I'd say I have very good hearing (and almost perfect pitch), I managed to guess 4/6 correct (with good headphones) and even then I wasn't sure for the most parts.
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
w5jck Avatar
9 months ago
I'm old guy, so I had to look up what HiFi supposedly refers to. I initially assumed it was either just another BS gimmicky name for better music quality with the streaming. What I read though is that HiFi is this new thing wherein you buy separate pieces/components of equipment to create your audio system. Really, new? Growing up in the 70s as a teenager we did that. You had a separate amplifier, a separate tuner, a separate record player, a separate tape deck, and later on a separate CD player. It was what we called a modular system made up of the components you wanted, along with separate speakers of course. Some even added separate reel to reel tap players as well. So if this is what young people are calling HiFi, well you are reinventing the darn wheel. With the advent of boomboxes and Walkmans in the 1970s and 1980s, the trend was to scale down to a bookshelf system which was still somewhat modular but much smaller. When the MP3 players became popular in the late 1990s and exploded in popularity after the iPods were introduced, smaller and pocketable became the fashion. Maybe the younger folks are oblivious to the old stereo systems of their grandparents era, but those old systems predate HiFi systems by half a century. So I have to wonder, is HiFi really just a gimmicky, BS term to refer to better audio quality? After all, AirPods hardly fit the description I've read for HiFi.
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
kalafalas Avatar
9 months ago
There’s no way they would gate it to exclusively the new AirPods. Over Bluetooth sure, but Wired and AirPlay, Mac HomePod and Apple TV should definitely be supported for HiFi playback. It does sound like they are implementing a seamless switching tech so the device can detect airpods, wired or airplay, WiFi/5G etc to send the appropriate stream and not waste data where unnecessary which is welcome. I hope I can offline tracks in lossless as well.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Related Stories

airpods pro roundup

Apple Reportedly Lowering AirPods Production Due to Decreasing Sales

Tuesday April 27, 2021 11:28 pm PDT by
Apple is cutting production of its ultra-popular AirPods by around 25% to 30% due to a decrease in sales as a result of increased competition in the wireless earphone industry, according to a new report from Nikkei Asia. According to the report, citing sources familiar with Apple's production plans, the tech giant now plans to produce only roughly 75 to 85 million units of AirPods for the...
homepod mini homepod

HomePod and HomePod mini to Gain Support For Apple Music Lossless Audio in Future Software Update

Friday May 21, 2021 11:20 pm PDT by
The HomePod and HomePod mini will gain support for playing back Apple Music Lossless audio in a future software update, according to a newly published Apple Support document. At launch, the HomePod and HomePod mini will not support Apple Music Lossless but will instead feature support for Dolby Atmos for Apple Music. Dolby Atmos, otherwise known as Spatial Audio, creates an immersive...
apple music album cover art

Apple Music Beta for Android Confirms Lossless Audio Streaming in the Works

Friday May 14, 2021 11:40 am PDT by
Following a report that Apple could announce a brand new HiFi Apple Music tier as soon as Tuesday, May 18, new warnings within the music streaming services app on Android have confirmed that lossless audio is in the works. As reported by 9to5Google, the Apple Music beta for Android has multiple warnings within the app that inform users that streaming audio at lossless, another term often...
apple music logo

Apple Music Teaser References 'Hi-Res Lossless' and 'Dolby Atmos'

Sunday May 16, 2021 4:04 pm PDT by
Earlier today, Apple Music began teasing a special announcement with the tagline "Get Ready – Music is About to Change Forever." This teaser comes amid a rumor that Apple is preparing to announce the third-generation AirPods alongside a HiFi, or lossless audio streaming tier for Apple Music on Tuesday, May 18. Now, references to "Apple Lossless," "Free Lossless," "Hi-Res Lossless," and...
iPhone Hi Fi Apple Music Feature

Apple Music Gaining Spatial Audio and Lossless Audio in iOS 14.6, Not All Tracks Supported at Launch

Monday May 17, 2021 8:29 am PDT by
Apple Music's incoming Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos and Lossless Audio features will be available in June on devices running iOS 14.6, iPadOS 14.6, macOS 11.4, and tvOS 14.6 or later, according to Apple. Apple said thousands of tracks will be available in Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos at no additional cost, with more added regularly. Already available on the AirPods Pro, Apple describes...
apple music spatial audio

Apple Music Launching Spatial Audio With Dolby Atmos and Lossless Audio in June at No Extra Cost

Monday May 17, 2021 6:06 am PDT by
Apple today announced that Apple Music will be gaining support for Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos at no additional cost starting in June. At launch, Apple Music subscribers will have access to thousands of songs in Spatial Audio from artists like J Balvin, Gustavo Dudamel, Ariana Grande, Maroon 5, Kacey Musgraves, The Weeknd, and many others. Apple says this feature will provide a...
airpods 3 1

Is This What the New AirPods Will Look Like?

Friday April 16, 2021 4:24 am PDT by
Amid continuing signs that third-generation AirPods are in the works, a number of images of the new design have purportedly leaked online. Images recently shared by 52audio claim to reveal the updated design of the third-generation AirPods, perhaps giving us the first clear look at Apple's next-generation wireless earbuds. The images depict AirPods with a shorter stem and a design very...
AirPods Lineup Feature Triad

Apple Music Dolby Atmos Compatible With All AirPods Models and Other Headphones

Monday May 17, 2021 6:54 am PDT by
Apple today announced that starting in June, Apple Music subscribers will have access to higher quality Lossless audio streaming, as well as Dolby Atmos, which replicates an immersive audio experience. Despite Spatial Audio for movies and TV shows being only available on the AirPods Pro and AirPods Max, Dolby Atmos for Apple Music, which Apple describes as creating an "immersive audio format ...

Popular Stories

AirPods Pro Gen 3 Mock Feature Red

AirPods Pro 2 Could Start a New Accessory Ecosystem

Friday January 14, 2022 2:34 am PST by
Apple's second-generation AirPods Pro could arrive alongside a new series of accessories, recent leaked images suggest. Alleged leaked photos of the next-generation AirPods Pro obtained by MacRumors showed a charging case with a metal loop on the side for attaching a strap. Apple has not used this design for any of its other AirPod models and it is unclear why it would be added in this...
netflix2

Netflix Again Raises Prices for All Plans, 4K Streaming Now $20 Per Month

Friday January 14, 2022 12:46 pm PST by
Netflix today updated the prices for its streaming plans, and all of its offerings are now more expensive. The Basic plan is now priced at $9.99 per month, the Standard plan is priced at $15.49 per month, and the Premium plan is priced at $19.99 per month. The Basic plan is $1 more expensive, up from $8.99 per month. This plan allows users to watch on just one screen at a time, and it limits ...
iPhone 14 Mock pill and hole 16x9 120hz

Analyst: All iPhone 14 Models to Feature 120Hz Displays, 6GB of RAM, and More

Friday January 14, 2022 7:02 am PST by
Apple is rumored to announce four new iPhone 14 models in September, and ahead of time, analyst Jeff Pu has outlined his expectations for the devices. In a research note with Haitong International Securities, obtained by MacRumors, Pu claimed that all iPhone 14 models will feature ProMotion displays, compared to only Pro models currently. ProMotion enables a variable refresh rate up to 120Hz ...
Unlikely Products 2022 Feature

Six Rumored Apple Products You're Unlikely to See This Year

Saturday January 15, 2022 2:06 pm PST by
Much has been said about what consumers could see from Apple in 2022, but the company is also working on a handful of rumored products that aren't expected to be unveiled for at least another 12 months, and in some cases a lot longer. Of course, that's assuming they get released at all. Apple works on many potential products some of which ultimately never see the light of day. With that in...
top stories 20220115

Top Stories: iPhone 14 Pro Rumors, iCloud Private Relay Controversy, iOS 15.2.1 Released, and More

Saturday January 15, 2022 6:00 am PST by
Hole-punch? Pill? Hole-punch and pill? Rumors about what the front camera system on the iPhone 14 Pro will look like are evolving rapidly, and it now appears we might be getting a novel but potentially controversial design later this year. Other major stories this week included some confusion and controversy about iCloud Private Relay being disabled for some T-Mobile customers, increasing...
iPhone 14 Mock pill and hole thumb

ProMotion Now Expected to Remain Exclusive to iPhone 14 Pro Models, Not Expand to Entire Lineup

Sunday January 16, 2022 8:56 am PST by
Continuing the tradition set with the iPhone 13 Pro, only the highest-end iPhone 14 models will feature Apple's ProMotion display technology, according to a respected display analyst. Ross Young, who on multiple occasions has detailed accurate information about Apple's future products, said in a tweet that ProMotion will not be expanded to the entire iPhone 14 lineup and will remain...
iPad Pro Big Ol Logo Orange

Next iPad Pro Might Feature Large Glass Apple Logo to Allow Wireless Charging

Friday January 14, 2022 10:44 am PST by
Bloomberg's Mark Gurman and Debby Wu last year reported that Apple had tested a new iPad Pro with a glass back for wireless charging capabilities. In a recent edition of his newsletter, Gurman said he expects the new iPad Pro to be released in 2022. While the new iPad Pro is still on track to feature wireless charging, 9to5Mac's Filipe Espósito today reported that Apple may have ultimately...
ipad air 4 video

New iPad Air Rumored to Launch This Spring With A15 Chip, 5G, Center Stage Camera, and More

Saturday January 15, 2022 8:05 pm PST by
Apple is planning to release a fifth-generation iPad Air with similar features as the sixth-generation iPad mini, including an A15 Bionic chip, 12-megapixel Ultra Wide front camera with Center Stage support, 5G for cellular models, and Quad-LED True Tone flash, according to Japanese blog Mac Otakara. Citing reliables sources in China, the report claims that the new iPad Air could be...