Archive for May 17, 2021

Monday, May 17, 2021

Apple Music Spatial Audio and Lossless Audio

Apple (Hacker News, MacRumors, The Verge):

Spatial Audio gives artists the opportunity to create immersive audio experiences for their fans with true multidimensional sound and clarity. Apple Music subscribers will also be able to listen to more than 75 million songs in Lossless Audio — the way the artists created them in the studio. These new features will be available for Apple Music subscribers starting next month at no additional cost.


By default, Apple Music will automatically play Dolby Atmos tracks on all AirPods and Beats headphones with an H1 or W1 chip, as well as the built-in speakers in the latest versions of iPhone, iPad, and Mac.


Apple uses ALAC (Apple Lossless Audio Codec) to preserve every single bit of the original audio file. This means Apple Music subscribers will be able to hear the exact same thing that the artists created in the studio.

To start listening to Lossless Audio, subscribers using the latest version of Apple Music can turn it on in Settings > Music > Audio Quality. Here, they can choose different resolutions for different connections such as cellular, Wi-Fi, or for download.

Nilay Patel:

Very cool of Apple for offering three tiers - including a higher quality tier than its devices can even support - instead of pretending the CD was the pinnacle of audio quality

Dan Moren:

Both Lossless and Hi-Ress Lossless format requires opting in, given large file sizes, and you’ll need an external digital-to-analog converter (DAC) for Hi-Res. Apple also confirmed to T3 that AirPods Pro and AirPods Max (and presumably vanilla AirPods) don’t support Lossless audio, since they can only use the Bluetooth AAC codec.

Micah Singleton:

AirPods Max also won’t support lossless over the lightning cable, the company tells me.

Chris Welch:

Apple just confirmed to me that lossless audio is exclusive to Apple Music. Subscription required.

There won’t be an option to purchase tracks or albums in that quality, nor will it be offered with iTunes Match.

Andrew O’Hara:

ANY AirPods will work with Spatial Audio when listening to music but ONLY AirPods Pro and AirPods Max support Spatial Audio on videos.

Nick Heer:

If you’ve been paying attention to the rumour mill, you might have expected that Apple would add lossless and spatial audio. The surprise is that it will be included with subscriptions at no extra cost, and that is a bold move. Spotify has not announced pricing yet for its lossless tier, but it costs $5 more per month to add lossless audio to a Deezer subscription, and it is a $10 per month add-on with Tidal, which is oddly now owned by Square. Tidal’s high-end subscription also offers Dolby Atmos tracks and spatial audio through Sony’s 360 Reality Audio format.

Sami Fathi:

Moments before Apple announced that it will begin offering Spatial Audio and Lossless audio streaming for Apple Music subscribers at no additional cost, Amazon Music announced that it will also offer its subscribers HiFi quality streaming for free, Billboard reports.

Tom Harrington:

Can’t use my own data without Apple trying to upsell me. Saying “no” isn’t an option, only “not now”.


Update (2021-05-24): Joe Rossignol:

Latest info on Apple Music lossless support…

Matt Birchler:

Is spatial audio for music the next great innovation in music production, or is it a whole bunch of nothing?

Venmo’s Public Transactions and Friend Lists

Ryan Mac et al. (via Nick Heer):

On Friday, following a passing mention in the New York Times that the president had sent his grandchildren money on Venmo, BuzzFeed News searched for the president’s account using only a combination of the app’s built-in search tool and public friends feature. In the process, BuzzFeed News found nearly a dozen Biden family members and mapped out a social web that encompasses not only the first family, but a wide network of people around them, including the president’s children, grandchildren, senior White House officials, and all of their contacts on Venmo.


While many critics have focused on how the app makes all transactions public by default, Venmo’s friend lists are arguably a larger privacy issue. Even if a Venmo account is set to make payments private, its friend list remains exposed. There is no setting to make this information private, which means it can provide a window into someone’s personal life that could be exploited by anyone — including trolls, stalkers, police, and spies.


Using public friend lists and transaction feeds, BuzzFeed News found two members of Congress who were roommates in Washington, DC, as well as reporters who were on friend lists with Trump administration officials, potentially exposing their sources. BuzzFeed News has also spoken with survivors of domestic violence and abuse who suspected that former partners used Venmo to track them and therapists who use Venmo to receive payment from clients and were unaware their friend lists showed who they were working with.

Twitter and App Tracking Transparency

Juli Clover:

After updating to version 8.65, which adds Spaces support, Twitter users will begin seeing a popup that asks them to “keep ads relevant” by allowing Twitter to track data from other companies like apps used and websites visited.


Epic v. Apple, Day 10

Adi Robertson (tweet):

Massively popular game creation tool Roblox is now a massively popular experience creation tool Roblox, possibly in response to the ongoing Epic v. Apple trial.


The “Games” tab now reads “Discover” on the web, although it still points to an address of “” Developers can create and manage “experiences,” and experiences have “max people” allowed. The word “game” has been replaced by “experience” across nearly the entire Roblox website, and the iOS and Android apps now have a Discover tab instead of a Games tab — although both apps are currently classed as games in their respective stores.


Roblox blurs the line between a large social game and a game engine or sales platform. Users don’t enter a single virtual world like Second Life; they launch individual experiences created by users. Developers can sell items within those experiences, and there are full-fledged game studios that build with Roblox instead of, say, the Unity or Unreal engines. But all of this activity happens within a single Roblox app, instead of as a series of separately packaged games.

Matthew Ball:

This is cray

Dieter Bohn:

Totally very normal thing for a developer to completely change the language and marketing of a vital part of their app (ahem game?) as a result of testimony in a trial they are not a participant in. Yup. Nothing weird here.