What’s new in iOS 14.6 RC? New Apple Music Features
As documented in its release notes, iOS 14.6 includes support for Apple Card family and podcast subscriptions, two service enhancements that will go live once the release goes public. But iOS 14.6 includes several other notable updates, including our first look at updated music settings for the recently announced Dolby Atmos Spatial Audio and high-quality lossless audio for Apple Music. The release also gives us a first look at upcoming Beats Studio Buds, among others. Watch our hands-on video walkthrough as we take a look at what’s new in iOS 14.6 RC.
Apple Music Updates: Lossless and Dolby Atmos
The big news yesterday was Apple’s expected announcement of lossless audio quality in ALAC (Apple Lossless Audio Codec) in the Apple Music catalog. Apple Music’s Lossless level starts with 16-bit CD quality at 44.1kHz, and moves up to 24-bit at 48kHz and is natively playable on Apple devices like iPhone, iPad, the Mac or Apple TV.
As 9to5mac explains, 1: 1 Lossless Audio will not be playable on AirPods, which means it will require professional and / or specialist wired headphones to enjoy it. Hi-Resolution Lossless, which increases the quality to 24-bit at 192kHz, goes one step further and will require an external DAC (digital-to-analog converter).
Video: What’s new in iOS 14.6 RC
In addition to Lossless Audio, Apple is also launching Spatial Audio support via Dolby Atmos to give users the ability to listen to certain albums in an immersive 3D soundstage. Spatial Audio for Apple Music will also launch in June, with thousands of songs to be supported. Spatial Audio will require headphones with either the W1 or H1 chip, which includes AirPods, AirPods Pro, AirPods Max, and several varieties of Beats headphones.
Several of the preference panels in the Music app’s settings will change in iOS 14.6 once support for Lossless and Dolby Atmos rolls out next month. A new audio quality panel will feature a new switch to enable lossless audio.
Apple states that Lossless files preserve all the details of the original audio and enabling lossless audio will consume much more data, therefore the feature is not enabled by default, but is opted for. -in. The good news is that even over cellular connections, users can enable high-resolution lossless playback, but Apple is careful to fairly warn users of the implications of data usage.
Another new section that can be found under Audio in iOS 14.6 is the new Dolby Atmos panel. Dolby Atmos playback has three settings in iOS 14.6: Automatic, Always On, and Off.
Automatic will play in Dolby Atmos and other Dolby Audio formats whenever connected to compatible outputs such as AirPods, AirPods Pro, AirPods Max (when spatial audio is on) and Beats headphones or devices Apple supported.
For more information on the new Apple Music enhancements, be sure to check out Benjamin Mayo’s in-depth article and José Adorno’s article.
Updated Cellular Parameter Labels
True to the Apple Music-centric theme, iOS 14.6 features updated cellular details for lossless streaming of Apple music through a wireless carrier. In Settings → Music, you’ll find a new Audio header, which groups cellular streaming, equalizer, and sound verification below.
The cell broadcast option, previously called “Cellular Data” in older versions of iOS, has a simpler structure with three options: None, High Efficiency, and High Quality. High Efficiency Cellular Playback uses HE-AAC with low data usage, while the High Quality option uses 256 kbps AAC bit rate.
Beats Studio Buds
iOS 14.6 RC gives us a first look at Apple’s upcoming Beats Studio Buds. The headphones, which are truly wireless and rodless, will feature noise cancellation and come in at least three colors: black, red, and white.
The Beats Studio Buds feature a wireless charging case, with a passing resemblance to the design of the AirPods Pro. The exterior of the case features a Beats logo and an LED status indicator underneath, while the interior of the case features a dedicated button that could be used for manual pairing.
Like other Beats headphones, the Beats Studio headphones feature replaceable ear tips for a more ideal fit and noise isolation. It is possible that each “b” button on the individual headphones, which feature a glossy surface, could function as a touchscreen to activate features such as noise cancellation and / or interfacing with Siri.
Apple will likely officially announce that the Beats Studio Buds are the release of iOS 14.6 and Apple Music Lossless, which means we’ll likely see the Beasts Studio Buds arrive in June.
Brand Apple Digital Master
Starting with iOS 14.6 RC, “ Mastered for iTunes ” albums will now say “ Apple Digital Master ” instead. This makes sense given that Apple has largely abandoned the iTunes brand.
With the Apple Digital Master branding, users can expect the aforementioned Lossless and Dolby Atmos branding to appear in the same area for compatible albums in the Apple Music library.
Updated explanation of application tracking
Apple now explains in more detail what happens when the Allow apps to request to follow switch is turned off in Settings → Privacy → Tracking. In case it wasn’t clear before, Apple now states that when this switch is turned off, all new app tracking requests are automatically denied.
Along with this updated explainer, Apple also explains why app tracking isn’t available when users see the switch greyed out. When disabled, a note now explains that this setting cannot be changed because a profile restricts it, or because your Apple ID is managed, does not meet minimum age requirements, or does not contain information about age.
In addition to these changes and updates, users can expect standard bug fixes, as well as the official rollout of Podcast subscriptions and support for the Apple Card family. While not quite up to iOS 14.5 in terms of changes and features, iOS 14.6 is a major update from a services perspective. Once the release goes public later this month or early June, we’ll be sure to post an in-depth hands-on tour of everything new in iOS 14.6.
What do you think of the new Apple Music Dolby Atmos Spatial Audio and Lossless features? What about the Beats Studio Buds? Sound off below in the comments with your thoughts.
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