AirPods 3 could launch alongside new Apple Music HiFi

Apple AirPods 3 leak
(Image credit: 52 Audio)

Rumor has it that Apple has plans for another treat to launch alongside the AirPods 3: a significant upgrade to Apple Music that won’t cost subscribers a cent more.

Hits Daily Double reports that Apple Music will add a new high-fidelity, lossless audio streaming tier taking streams above the current 256kbps AAC format. That means people with high-end speakers or headphones should certainly be able to hear the difference when it’s introduced. 

The exact audio quality isn’t specified in the report, but the move should bring Apple Music closer to the likes of Deezer, Tidal, Amazon Music Unlimited and Spotify’s upcoming HiFi tier.

Apple could have an ace up its sleeve. While all of its rivals charge (or are expected to charge) more for their improved audio, Apple Music will apparently offer the upgrade free of charge to its $9.99 per month subscribers. 

 Too good to be true? 

While that may well reflect that Apple isn’t hoping to hit the studio quality offered by Tidal and Amazon, it still almost sounds too good to be true. But that’s the information Hits Daily Double has been given from its “label sources.” 

Offering high-fidelity, lossless audio is typically a paid extra for audiophiles, costing between $5 (Amazon Music Unlimited) to $10 (Tidal) per month. While Spotify HiFi doesn’t have a monthly cost attached yet, the company has upped its prices this week, possibly preparing for the new tier when it arrives.  

So in that market, could Apple really decide to offer a lossless streaming upgrade without charging more money? Obviously, Apple has the resources to do just that, as it's essentially been giving away Apple TV Plus for a long time. 

That said, Apple Music, despite its growth, still sits some distance behind Spotify in terms of subscriber numbers. If offering an upgrade that others charge for is a way of closing the gap, then it would certainly make sense for Apple to throw some of its ample resources at making that happen.

It’s also worth noting that the move wouldn’t be without precedent for the company. Apple famously offered buyers of HD movies a free upgrade to 4K HDR versions when they became available, which it certainly was under no obligation to do. 

Hits Daily Double reports that the new tier will be announced alongside AirPods 3, which should appear in the first half of 2021. If the company keeps subscription prices static while offering improved quality, it will certainly be interesting to see how its rivals react.

Alan Martin

Freelance contributor Alan has been writing about tech for over a decade, covering phones, drones and everything in between. Previously Deputy Editor of tech site Alphr, his words are found all over the web and in the occasional magazine too. When not weighing up the pros and cons of the latest smartwatch, you'll probably find him tackling his ever-growing games backlog. Or, more likely, playing Spelunky for the millionth time.