Apple Music’s Spatial Audio and Lossless Streaming Features Land on Android

Apple Music’s Spatial Audio and Lossless Streaming Features Land on Android
Screenshot: Apple

Apple launched its Spatial Audio feature and lossless streaming support for Apple Music just over a month ago, and as of today, Android users can also get in on the action.

A quick refresher: Spatial Audio is Apple’s take on immersive, digital surround sound. It’s not quite the same thing as Dolby Atmos, which refers to a type of surround sound format that simulates a 3D space. However, they are related. You can read a more in-depth explainer here, but the gist is your device needs to be able to process Dolby Atmos content to get this feature. That’s step one, and you’ll have to check with your device’s manufacturer.

If your Android device does support Atmos, the next step is to make sure you’re on the most recent version of Apple Music. Once you’ve done that it’s pretty simple. All you have to do is open the app, tap the ellipsis icon (three dots), hit Settings, and toggle Dolby Atmos on or off. For lossless audio, you can tap the Audio Quality option in Settings and choose between 24-bit/48kHz resolution or 24-bit/192kHz resolution.

Lossless audio is different from Spatial Audio. It refers to the resolution of the music file itself. Streaming compresses files to preserve bandwidth, and as a result, you lose some of the richness and detail. The higher the resolution, the less detail you lose — hence the term “lossless.” The caveat here is because you’re streaming bigger files, toggling this setting on will eat up more data on both cellular and wifi. If you download them, they’ll also take up more space on your device. Plus, it doesn’t work with Bluetooth headphones. To take advantage, you’ll have to use a wired connection, and possibly a digital-to-analogue converter.

Is it a little messy? Definitely, though the newer your device, the more likely it is to support these features. As always, if you’re unsure, it’s best to check with your gadget’s manufacturer while also keeping in mind there’s an element of trial and error. For instance, even Apple’s still figuring out which of its own gadgets support these features. It recently removed some older devices that were previously thought to be compatible. The main devices affected are the iPhone XR, fifth-gen iPad mini, the third-gen iPad Air, and late-model iPads (gens six, seven, and eight).