Inside iOS 11: Early FLAC audio playback comes to iOS via new Files app

Posted:
in iPhone
An unexpected feature of Apple's first iOS 11 developer beta is rudimentary support for FLAC audio playback, which may hint at broader compatibility coming in the final release.




The option currently appears limited to the Files app for iPhone and iPad. That may presage eventual support in the Music app, as well as in iTunes on desktops, which would be needed to automatically sync files. Apple doesn't use FLAC on Apple Music or the iTunes Store.




FLAC is a lossless audio format, maximizing quality at the expense of storage and bandwidth. iOS and iTunes do support Apple Lossless, but while the format offers a smaller footprint, it isn't as commonplace.

Some other iOS 11 enhancements include an overhauled Control Center, person-to-person Apple Pay transfers, and iPad-oriented upgrades like drag-and-drop, a Mac-style dock, and simpler multitasking.

A public beta of iOS 11 should be available later this month. The finished software is due this fall, most likely ahead of new iPhones.
lostkiwi

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 16
    mike1mike1 Posts: 1,518member
    Way cool. File size isn't as critical on a computer or portable device as it once was and having this option would be great.
    gregoriusmlostkiwi
  • Reply 2 of 16
    As part of the Files app? Useless. 

    If it comes to the Music app...well then I'll finally be able to stop using shitty 3rd party apps like Vox to play my FLAC files. I hate using 2 separate Music apps.
    williamlondonlostkiwi
  • Reply 3 of 16
    rogifan_newrogifan_new Posts: 2,401member
    How do you get them onto the device?
  • Reply 4 of 16
    SoliSoli Posts: 6,135member
    As part of the Files app? Useless. 

    If it comes to the Music app...well then I'll finally be able to stop using shitty 3rd party apps like Vox to play my FLAC files. I hate using 2 separate Music apps.
    Why not just use another music app so you can play FLAC? Why does Apple’s Music app have to specifically support FLAC to be useful?
  • Reply 5 of 16
    sphericspheric Posts: 1,446member
    As part of the Files app? Useless. 

    If it comes to the Music app...well then I'll finally be able to stop using shitty 3rd party apps like Vox to play my FLAC files. I hate using 2 separate Music apps.
    I use XLD to convert existing FLAC files to Apple Lossless and use iTunes as my player. Retains all metadata and works with high-resolution downloads, as well. 
    edited June 2017 williamlondonargonaut
  • Reply 6 of 16
    JinTechJinTech Posts: 267member
    Soli said:
    As part of the Files app? Useless. 

    If it comes to the Music app...well then I'll finally be able to stop using shitty 3rd party apps like Vox to play my FLAC files. I hate using 2 separate Music apps.
    Why not just use another music app so you can play FLAC? Why does Apple’s Music app have to specifically support FLAC to be useful?
    Did you read his post? He doesn't want to use two apps, and would rather only use one.
  • Reply 7 of 16
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 30,166member
    I also convert to ALAC. Really, this isn't such a big deal. I'd rather use the much newer ALAC anyway, as it compresses a bit more, and is better with metadata. FLAC is rather long in the tooth.
    Solipscooter63
  • Reply 8 of 16
    SoliSoli Posts: 6,135member
    JinTech said:
    Soli said:
    As part of the Files app? Useless. 

    If it comes to the Music app...well then I'll finally be able to stop using shitty 3rd party apps like Vox to play my FLAC files. I hate using 2 separate Music apps.
    Why not just use another music app so you can play FLAC? Why does Apple’s Music app have to specifically support FLAC to be useful?
    Did you read his post? He doesn't want to use two apps, and would rather only use one.
    1) He doesn’t have to use two apps as other music apps will surely want to support all audio codecs that iOS can support.

    2) If you really want lossless then why not ALAC? As Melgross states, it’s better.
    edited June 2017 melgross
  • Reply 9 of 16
    bestkeptsecretbestkeptsecret Posts: 2,524member
    melgross said:
    I also convert to ALAC. Really, this isn't such a big deal. I'd rather use the much newer ALAC anyway, as it compresses a bit more, and is better with metadata. FLAC is rather long in the tooth.


    Yes, I was wondering what the advantage of FLAC over ALAC was, given native support for ALAC on iTunes/ Apple Music.

    I guess the only thing you avoid by being able to play FLAC files directly is converting it to another format. I am an avid collector of concerts and (ahem!) rarities and most of these are traded as FLAC files (or the older, now hardly used, SHN files).

    Sites like HDTracks give you the option of downloading as AIFF, Wave, ALAC or FLAC, so I don't see that much of an advantage in having native FLAC support. It will definitely be a minor convenience, but nothing lost if it is not there.

  • Reply 10 of 16
    19831983 Posts: 972member
    I really hope they end up supporting FLAC in iTunes and on the iOS Music app...its about time! High-res 24bit audio and DSD would be great too, but that's not happening anytime soon unfortunately.
  • Reply 11 of 16
    sevenfeetsevenfeet Posts: 367member
    1983 said:
    I really hope they end up supporting FLAC in iTunes and on the iOS Music app...its about time! High-res 24bit audio and DSD would be great too, but that's not happening anytime soon unfortunately.
    Apple already supports hi-res 24-bit audio with ALAC right now in iTunes (Mac/PC).  It works well although you'll need an external DAC to hear the music natively.  If you stream it to an Airplay device, it's automatically downscaled to 16/44.1.  (No word on what Airplay 2 will support)  They don't support it in iOS yet although you can upload your hires files to your iOS device manually through iTunes and play it with a third party player and an external DAC.  (FLAC files can be played this way too).
  • Reply 12 of 16


    FLAC is a lossless audio format, maximizing quality at the expense of storage and bandwidth.
    FLAC does not maximize quality, per se. It simply retains it at 100% regardless of the chosen compression rate. There are several compression rates that are offer trade off between file size vs time of compression. Decompression roughly takes the same amount of time, regardless of the compression rate and is much faster comparing to compression.

    It is nice to hear that Apple is adopting FLAC support.
    edited June 2017
  • Reply 13 of 16
    mac_128mac_128 Posts: 2,945member
    sevenfeet said:
    1983 said:
    I really hope they end up supporting FLAC in iTunes and on the iOS Music app...its about time! High-res 24bit audio and DSD would be great too, but that's not happening anytime soon unfortunately.
    Apple already supports hi-res 24-bit audio with ALAC right now in iTunes (Mac/PC).  It works well although you'll need an external DAC to hear the music natively.  If you stream it to an Airplay device, it's automatically downscaled to 16/44.1.  (No word on what Airplay 2 will support)  They don't support it in iOS yet although you can upload your hires files to your iOS device manually through iTunes and play it with a third party player and an external DAC.  (FLAC files can be played this way too).
    While I understand audiophiles and professionals would benefit from this, so long as headphones only support BT streaming, there's not a lot to be gained within Apple's ecosystem, even if full FLAC/ALAC support is enabled on Airplay devices, specifically the iPhone and M1 chipped headphones ...
  • Reply 14 of 16
    goron59goron59 Posts: 6member
    JinTech said:
    Soli said:
    As part of the Files app? Useless. 

    If it comes to the Music app...well then I'll finally be able to stop using shitty 3rd party apps like Vox to play my FLAC files. I hate using 2 separate Music apps.
    Why not just use another music app so you can play FLAC? Why does Apple’s Music app have to specifically support FLAC to be useful?
    Did you read his post? He doesn't want to use two apps, and would rather only use one.
    Yes, but he didn't say that had to be Apple Music. You can, for example, use VOX for everything, although you may not want to if you like streaming services.
    People with HD lossless music collections tend (to date) to use stuff from other vendors, both hardware and software, so it's not such a big leap.
  • Reply 15 of 16
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 30,166member
    1983 said:
    I really hope they end up supporting FLAC in iTunes and on the iOS Music app...its about time! High-res 24bit audio and DSD would be great too, but that's not happening anytime soon unfortunately.
    Couldn't care less about FLAC, but iTunes does support these higher rates. It's Apple Core Audio that gives the problem. I use software called Pure Music in conjunction with iTunes. It diverts the files from Core Audio, and routs them out itself to my pre, with its own converters. It has other advantages as well, and it will convert FLAC to ALAC. I can play any Rez up to the current 24/192 of the pre, as well as 2x DSD, assuming you're taken by that nonsense.

    apple's Core Audio was meant for audio professionals, who prefer a fixed output. In other words, you set whether the machine will output 16.44.1 or 24/96, and everything will output at those specs. The problem is that for random playback, it converts everything, if necessary, to whatever the settings are. So if you've got a 24/96 file, but the computer is set for 16/44.1, it will convert to that before playing the file (the original file remains untouched).

    Apple needs to do two things. First upgrade to 24/192 D/As, they're pretty cheap these days, even good ones, and allow a freesync for output. Both would eliminate most of the "iTunes sounds bad" cries I get.
  • Reply 16 of 16
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 30,166member
    mac_128 said:
    sevenfeet said:
    1983 said:
    I really hope they end up supporting FLAC in iTunes and on the iOS Music app...its about time! High-res 24bit audio and DSD would be great too, but that's not happening anytime soon unfortunately.
    Apple already supports hi-res 24-bit audio with ALAC right now in iTunes (Mac/PC).  It works well although you'll need an external DAC to hear the music natively.  If you stream it to an Airplay device, it's automatically downscaled to 16/44.1.  (No word on what Airplay 2 will support)  They don't support it in iOS yet although you can upload your hires files to your iOS device manually through iTunes and play it with a third party player and an external DAC.  (FLAC files can be played this way too).
    While I understand audiophiles and professionals would benefit from this, so long as headphones only support BT streaming, there's not a lot to be gained within Apple's ecosystem, even if full FLAC/ALAC support is enabled on Airplay devices, specifically the iPhone and M1 chipped headphones ...
    High quality audio is really pretty cheap to support these days. It's been a long time since you needed to spend $25 per D/A for a tray of 1,000 chips. Good 24/192 D/As cost a buck, and for Apple's quantity, likely well under that. And software is just software. It doesn't cost more to support higher rates. New Bluetooth can easily support full 24/192 streaming.

    so there's no reason why Apple can't do this, and for very little more than they're spending now. I know a fair number of people who would switch to Apple's devices if they did that.
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