iOS code hints at lossless Apple Music streaming

The upgraded service could be a foil to Spotify HiFi.

Billy Steele/Engadget

Apple might not let Spotify HiFi go unanswered. Sleuths at 9to5Mac have discovered iOS 14.6 beta 1 code mentioning "lossless" audio in the Music app, suggesting that a high-quality option might come to Apple Music. It even references Dolby Atmos and Dolby Audio, although it's not clear if the more immersive sound would be available through Apple's service.

The discovery came shortly after Hits Daily Double floated an unconfirmed rumor that Apple was planning a "high-fidelity" service in the weeks ahead. It would cost the same $10 per month (making it more of an upgrade than a new tier) and would supposedly launch alongside third-generation AirPods.

We wouldn't count on a near-term launch, assuming one happens at all. Apple has already removed the code from iOS 14.6 beta 2, suggesting that it was either included prematurely, that the company didn't want to spoil its plans, or that it had second thoughts about the service.

If high-quality streaming did arrive with iOS 14.6, though, it could be a coup for Apple. Spotify HiFi is only slated to reach some countries sometime in 2021. Apple might preempt its rival by weeks and even one-up competitors that have long offered lossless audio, including Tidal. The pristine sound could also be a selling point for AirPods Max — we bemoaned the lack of high-res service support in our review, and lossless Apple Music could better justify the premium-priced headphones.