Apple Music has flipped the switch on its previously announced streaming and spatial audio features with no loss of quality. If you have the latest iOS, iPadOS and macOS updates installed, you can now stream selected tracks in standard lossless/CD quality audio and high resolution lossless (if you have an external DAC for the latter).
Apple said both features would arrive “today” at the WWDC keynote, but it took many hours after the event ended for customers to start seeing them appear in the app. Maybe still not if the rollout hasn’t reached you yet.
Keep in mind that lossless audio files take up significantly more storage space when downloaded and also burn more data when streamed. You can Dive into all the technical details and FAQs here. The default AAC streaming will remain the default unless you switch your preference to lossless in the Music app section of the iOS settings.
Apple has said that more than 20 million songs will be available in lossless quality at launch, and by the end of 2021, the entire Apple Music catalog of more than 75 million songs will be lossless. Lossless audio is exclusive to Apple Music and requires a subscription; it is not available for purchase, nor can you upgrade or obtain purchased music through iTunes Match.
Lossless audio is available on iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple TV 4K. Support for the HomePod and HomePod Mini will be added in a future software update.
Today you can also try spatial audio on Apple Music for the first time. Millions of songs now offer immersive, Dolby Atmos-powered mixes that Apple claims deliver “truly multi-dimensional sound and clarity.” However, there will be a much smaller selection of spatial audio tracks than lossless tracks, with Apple promising “thousands” of spatial audio tracks on day one and more to come. The company has put together several playlists to showcase Atmos’ spatial audio experience across different music genres. Other companies such as Tidal and Amazon also offer these “surround sound” audio formats.
Both features are now included as part of the standard Apple Music subscription. More and more music services are offering lossless audio, and those that already were, such as Amazon Music HD, are dropping the extra fees they previously charged to enjoy it.