The best new Apple Music feature is not supported by the AirPods or HomePod families

The best new Apple Music feature is not supported by the AirPods or HomePod families
UPDATED: Adding insult to injury, the HomePod and HomePod mini have officially joined this far too extensive list of Cupertino-made products unsupported by Apple Music's freshly unveiled Lossless Audio functionality.

That kind of makes us wonder why Apple went to the trouble of getting this thing done in the first place or at least why the company didn't think ahead to the exciting music streaming upgrade (in theory) when developing its wireless headphones and smart speakers. Our original story continues below.


When announcing its game-changing and trend-setting new music streaming goodies earlier today, Apple unsurprisingly plugged its AirPods and Beats products, highlighting that all existing (and fast-approaching) headphones with an H1 or W1 chip under both brands will "automatically play" Dolby Atmos tracks on Apple Music going forward.

But the Dolby Atmos-powered Spatial Audio technology was arguably not the most exciting thing unveiled today, and as you may have noticed, Apple didn't try to hype up the complimentary Lossless Audio feature in connection to its AirPods and Beats-branded equipment in any way.

No high-quality Apple Music love for any AirPods owners

Predictably enough, that was hardly an innocent omission on the company's part, as rumored for a little while already and confirmed by the folks over at T3. That's right, none of the existing AirPods and Beats headphones will be able to stream your favorite Apple Music tunes in "lossless" quality.

Not the second-gen "regular" AirPods, released a little more than two years ago, not the slightly newer, higher-end, and costlier AirPods Pro, and worst of all, not the over-ear AirPods Max, which saw daylight less than six months back at an arguably excessive $549 retail price that has of course yet to budge.

Before grabbing your pitchfork and booking a trip to Cupertino, it's important to remember (and we can't stress this enough) that all Apple Music subscribers are set to receive the aforementioned Lossless Audio upgrade at some point next month for free.

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That means you will continue to pay just $9.99 a month (or $4.99 on a student account, or $14.99 for a family subscription) whether or not you will ever listen to a single song or album at its "highest quality." You had to have known there would be some sort of a catch or restriction to this completely un-Apple deal, and well, here you go.

But why?!?

The reason, in case you're wondering (and we know you are), is the Bluetooth AAC codec used by the AirPods family when connected to your iPhone, which apparently cannot handle the high-quality ALAC (Apple Lossless Audio Codec) files used to "preserve every single bit of the original audio file" whenever possible.

In other words, there was simply no technical way for Apple to get this done, and unfortunately, the same will almost definitely be true for the AirPods 3 when the company's next noise-cancelling true wireless earbuds finally break cover.

The restriction, by the way, applies to both the Lossless (aka "CD quality") and Hi-Resolution Lossless (supporting up to 24 bit playback at 192 kHz) tiers of Apple Music. On the bright side, your (discontinued) HomePod smart speaker (update: nope) and Apple TV digital media player (as well as your iPhone, iPad, and Mac) should be capable of getting the most out of your $9.99 a month audio streaming experience with ease.

Keep in mind that you'll need to wait for next month's iOS 14.6 release, update your Apple Music app to its latest version, and then manually enable Lossless or Hi-Res Lossless streaming from Settings, Music, and finally, Audio Quality.

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