iOS 8 May Enable Lightning Headphones & High-Resolution Audio

A new report claims Apple is planning to use iOS 8 as a springboard to better sound on the iPhone 5, iPhone 5s and possibly the iPhone 6 with new Lightning headphones and an opportunity for better sounding audio on Lightning Made for iPhone speakers.

This new rumor arrives as Apple closes a deal with Beats Electronics for 3.2 billion dollars to make the company part of Apple, and potentially bring the founders on as senior executives with a role in delivering better sound from the iPhone. These new claims line up with a separate report that Apple plans to offer high-resolution audio sales through iTunes later this year.

While the iPod and the iPhone are often hailed as leading the mobile music revolution and iTunes made it easy for millions to buy songs legally, the quality is not up tot he standards of many demanding listeners who need to buy a special player and better headphones to listen to high-resolution audio. iTunes currently sells Mastered for iTunes and reportedly has been trying to deliver better sounding audio from iTunes and mobile players since 2011.

In less than a month Apple will take the stage to announce the future of iOS and OS X, which will likely include iOS 8, OSX 10.10 and a new version of iTunes. This will happen on June 2nd at WWDC 2014, and it is where we may hear the first real confirmation of Apple supporting high-res Audio on iTunes and on devices like the iPhone and iPad.

iOS 8 could bring better sounding music with high-resolution audio on the iPhone.

iOS 8 could bring better sounding music with high-resolution audio on the iPhone.

Macotakara reports that Apple is working on a new higher quality pair of in ear headphones that will connect with the Lightning cable to deliver better sounding audio with support for 24 bit audio files. The Music player in iOS 7 is limited to 16 bit files. The iPhone hardware is capable of playing back high-resolution 24-bit audio files, but users need to buy the music outside of iTunes and use an app like Onkyo HF Player to listen to them.

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Apple will reportedly build support for high-resolution audio into iOS 8, which will arrive on the iPhone and iPad likely this fall. In this report Macotakara claims Apple is also updating the in ear headphones with a lightning connection to deliver the better sound and pushing the sound quality output over Lightning up for the Made for iPhone program, which would allow better sound through Lightning speakers.

Apple may be ready to announce the new version of iTunes with support for high-resolution audio at WWDC 2014, as a Led Zeppelin Super Deluxe release is slated for June 4th with high-res audio of  96kHz/24bit original and 48kHz/24bit live. This includes an HD audio download card, which suggests Apple is nearly ready to make an announcement.

Reports of better sounding audio from iTunes date back to the end of March when Robert Hutton reported that Apple is working to bring high-resolution audio to iTunes. Hutton writes,

“And the Led Zeppelin remasters in high resolution will be the kick off event – to coincide with Led Zep in hi-res, Apple will flip the switch and launch their hi-res store via iTunes – and apparently, it will be priced a buck above the typical current file prices.

That’s right – Apple will launch hi-res iTunes in two months.

And at that point, you can say goodbye to HD Tracks, Acoustic Sounds Hi-Res store, and ProStudioMasters, and probably all the other hi-res audio online stores. Apple will kill them, straight out of the box”

This could push the average user to pay more attention to music and in turn purchase better headphones, which may explain part of Apple’s Beats purchase this month. These audio files should sound dramatically better than the MP3 files sold in iTunes at this time.

Users will need better than the bundled earpods to take advantage of high-resolution audio.

Users will need better than the bundled earpods to take advantage of high-resolution audio.

While audiophiles and music lovers may not have the same numbers as the average music listener streaming from Spotify or Pandora nearly 20,000 backed a high-resolution portable audio player that will retail for $399 when it arrives late this year. Apple was not the first company to deliver a mp3 player or the first to offer a smartphone, but thanks to a deep catalog of music and a consumer friendly design it won out, and the company may be planning to do the same thing again.

If Apple does announce better sounding music as part of iOS 8, it may be limited to recent iPhones with a Lightning port. Apple routinely restricts new features to the latest hardware, and this wouldn’t be out of character. High-resolution audio files are huge compared to MP3′s. This chart from audio mountain shows that a three-minute MP3 is roughly 4.32MB, but a similar high-resolution audio file is 103.68MB. If Apple is serious about not only selling high-resolution audio, but also about being the premier HRA player with an iPhone 6, iPod touch 6th generation or the iPad the company will likely need to offer a larger capacity iPhone to satisfy users who will want to carry a large music library at all times.

the iOS 8 release date is rumored for this fall, days before a new iPhone release date that could happen in September. iOS 8 will reportedly include a updates including a health tracking app called Healthbook and a variety of improvements to Siri and Apple Maps. Check out our complete list of iOS 8 rumors.

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