The first iOS 14.6 beta confirmed that Apple Music HiFi is actually real, and higher quality music would be coming to the iOS Music app soon. An earlier rumor had hinted towards an imminent launch of Apple Music Wifi and third-generation AirPods in the coming weeks.
Apple Music HiFi references found in iOS 14.6 beta code
As discovered by 9to5Mac, references to “Dolby Atmos,” “Dolby Audio,” and “Lossless.” were found in the Music app in iOS 14.6 beta 1, which were later removed in iOS 14.6 beta 2. These references do not exist in iOS 14.5 either which was recently released to customers. So far, Apple Music app has not supported either Dolby Atmos
Reports have speculated that Apple Music HiFi will support lossless music streaming which is 1,411kbps for CD-quality audio. TiDAL offers Master recording quality at 9,216kbps, and HiFi at 1,411kbps, while Deezer HiFi also supports lossless 1,411kbps. Spotify HiFi’s details have not yet been shared by the company, but it is claimed to be lossless, which would hint towards a 1,411kbps bitrate.
Of course, to enjoy lossless quality music to its full extent, users would need to have a good pair of headphones. Apple’s own AirPods Pro and AirPods Max are only benchmarked with 256kbps audio, as per Apple’s website. It is unclear whether any of these headphones would even support lossless audio – whether they will be limited by Bluetooth or will the H1 chip allow them to support higher quality audio is unknown. TiDAL users who have tested lossless or master quality with AirPods Max and AirPods Pro report only minor improvements to the listening experience.
An earlier report had hinted that the standard Apple Music subscription plan will get support for higher quality music. This will be in sharp contrast to competitors like Spotify HiFi, Amazon Music HD, TiDAL, and Deezer HiFi, which charge extra over their standard plans.
From a consumer point of view, this might be a great move, and might push competitors to either reduce their costs or simply include the premium tiers within their standard subscriptions. However, the competing streaming music companies might find one more thing to complain about to authorities when it comes to Apple.
It is possible that Apple might release Apple Music HiFi when IOS 14.6 is available to customers. 9to5Mac speculates that since Apple will enable paid subscriptions in the Podcasts app in May, it might be with iOS 14.6 release. This matches with the earlier report that Apple Music HiFi might launch over the coming few weeks, which might coincide with the public release for iOS 14.6.