If you open the Apple Music app on your iPhone or iPad today, chances are that you will see the new Apple Lossless audio and Dolby Atmos updates as part of your music library now. Apple has already said that more than 20 million tracks will be available in lossless audio quality with the entire catalogue of 75 million tracks being made available in lossless by the end of this year. Mind you, this is a server-side update with Apple enabling this for users in a phased manner—in case you don’t see the update just yet, give it a few hours. To enable Lossless Audio once it is available, head to Settings > Music > Audio Quality and toggle on Lossless Audio. The Lossless Audio format will be available on iPhone, iPad, Mac and Apple TV 4K and is an add-on for your existing Apple Music subscription.
It was last month when Apple confirmed the upcoming upgrade for Lossless Audio and Dolby Atmos for Apple Music, giving it an advantage over music streaming rivals including Spotify which is yet to roll out the lossless audio formats, and Amazon Music which has a lossless tier for subscribers in some countries. Amazon has since ended the extra subscription fees for HD music and integrated that within larger Amazon Music subscriptions. In India, Apple Music subscriptions start at Rs 49 per month for the Student plan, Rs 99 per month for the Individual Apple Music plan and Rs 149 per month for the Apple Music Family plan. Also, Apple Music is the first music streaming platform to offer lossless audio, officially to Indian users. Apple will use the ALAC (Apple Lossless Audio Codec) for high resolution tracks, and users will be able to choose between three quality standards for lossless audio as well.
At the time of writing this, I do not have the Apple Lossless Audio and Dolby Atmos updates showing up for my Apple Music subscription, but some albums do show a new Apple Digital Master icon on the album page. This change went Live during the Apple WWDC 2021 keynote. But those who do have this update Live on their Apple Music app already, indicate that there will be specific curations and playlists that will allow users to quickly experience the Dolby Atmos audio spec. You will be able to choose between three quality standards for lossless music streaming as well. For this, head to Settings > Music > Audio Quality. The three quality tiers are CD quality which is 16 bit at 44.1 kHz (kilohertz), the Lossless 24 bit at 48 kHz which is playable natively on Apple devices and the Hi-Resolution Lossless 24 bit at 192 kHz.
Yet, there has been some confusion about whether all devices within the Apple ecosystem will have the Lossless Audio support. It is believed that the Apple AirPods Max headphones, the latest generation Apple AirPods and AirPods Pro as well as the previous generation AirPods wireless earbuds, do not support the Apple Lossless Audio Codec. The limitation, which Apple has since confirmed, is the fact that Bluetooth data streaming standard does not support lossless audio. You will need a wired connection for lossless audio to work, when you connect Apple Music loaded iPhones or iPads to an HD music compatible speaker, headphone or audio receiver with an audio cable—and the Lightning to 3.5mm headphone jack adapter which Apple sells, supports Apple Lossless audio. Apple has also confirmed that the support for HomePod smart speakers, the HomePod and the HomePod Mini will be rolling out soon as a software update.