The Guardian is reporting that Apple is working on a new method of "adaptive streaming" for music stored in iCloud that will "adjust itself to the bandwidth and storage available on the receiving device."
The UK paper is less clear on exactly how that new format will be implemented, saying that it could offer high-definition audio to users of iPhones, iPads, and iPod touch or alternatively offer a streaming service. The latter makes sense when the Apple acquisition of streaming service Lala.com in 2009 is considered.
The service will apparently be available at some unspecified date to upgrade iTunes Match. According to a source for The Guardian, a London-based studio has been asked to prepare audio files for a new adaptive streaming format. The source was quoted as saying "All of a sudden, all your audio from iTunes is in HD rather than AAC. Users wouldn't have to touch a thing – their library will improve in an instant."
Adaptive streaming could allow mobile users to access their music in a less bandwidth-intensive manner, while those on a fast network at home or work would hear the music in studio quality. It's unknown whether the files are converted to smaller, lower-quality types in real time, or if Apple will store a master file in a number of different formats.
Whatever Apple will unveil in terms of adaptive streaming, the curtain could be opened to music fans as soon as the announcement of the next-generation iPad next Wednesday, March 7.