Apple’s new iPhone X, iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus include hardware codec support for FLAC, a lossless audio format, while iPhone 7 owners will soon be able to enjoy FLAC-encoded audio with an update to iOS 11.
Until now, Apple had purposely decided to ignore supporting FLAC playback support in both iTunes and iOS, although the are several third-party apps that allowed users to circumvent this exclusion.
According to a new report from MacRumors, the functionality was first spotted on an iPhone 6S Plus running iOS 11 Beta 1 and is reportedly available as part of the newly announced file-management app, Files.
Free Lossless Audio Codec (FLAC) brings the full quality of the original recording via lossless compression of digital audio at the expense of storage and bandwidth. The format cuts the file size to circa 50-60 percent of the original without degrading audio quality.
While iPhone 7 users will be able to take advantage of the new audio file support, it seems as if iPhone 6S users are out of luck.
“Apple’s support for the FLAC codec doesn’t officially extend to the iPhone 6S or iPhone SE, which may be because an A10 processor is a minimum requirement for hardware decoding and Apple is not satisfied with the power consumption tradeoffs of FLAC software decoding,” reads the report.
Apple is likely continuing to test FLAC support across the range of its mobile devices, and could possible even offer FLAC as a download option in iTunes and as a playback option in the Music app at some point in the future.
Interestingly, iPhone users will only receive the full benefits of the lossless compression standard by using Lightning-connected headphones, as a Bluetooth audio connection simply doesn’t offer enough bandwidth to properly play the files.