Apple HomePod is getting lossless audio but why is it taking so long?

Lossless audio options have appeared in a beta release for the HomePod OS, giving the smart speakers a new lease of life

Apple HomePod mini
(Image credit: Apple)

Apple was always going to bring lossless audio to its smart speakers. I didn’t even need to read the press release that confirmed it to know that. Why wouldn’t Apple deliver the best possible audio to its premium smart speakers?

While there were doubts as to whether the speakers were able to offer it, it would have been strange not to have a smart speaker that could showcase just how much better lossless audio sounds – and it really does.

But, as was reported yesterday by MacRumors, the option to switch on lossless audio has been found in the latest beta of HomePod 15, which means both the HomePod and HomePod mini are likely to be able to play this high-quality audio format in September. It’s not clear, however, if the High-Resolution Lossless option will also be available.

The biggest question for me is on timing. Lossless came to the iPhone in the iOS 14.6 update back in May but not to the Homepod or HomePod mini. In fact, Apple had already announced plans to discontinue the larger HomePod back in March with no sign of a replacement.

It makes me wonder if there had originally been a new HomePod planned to tie in with the lossless audio release but that has now been delayed. However, had that been the case surely the firmware would have been ready to add to the existing models too?

My guess is that we will see a new larger HomePod replacement, possibly around the time of the iOS 15 / iPhone launch in September. Apple really needs a product to show off just how good High-Resolution Lossless can be. Right now, the only way to listen to it is on the iPhone or with wired headphones via a digital to analog converter (DAC).

Don’t forget that lossless and spatial audio are coming to the Mac and Apple TV this year too, so that will be another way to experience the sound. To do this wirelessly would require an upgrade to the Bluetooth codec or AirPlay to allow the full high-res sound. But how good would it be if these would connect to a pair of HomePods for the full experience?

Mat Gallagher
Mat Gallagher

As T3's Managing Editor in the US, Mat is a true lover of gadgets, but especially anything that involves cameras, cars, music or travel.