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Apple Music spatial audio drops support for some iPhone and iPad models

A number of iPhone and iPad models will no longer support Apple Music’s Spatial Audio feature, despite Apple initially promising they would.

An update to the compatibility list for the feature, which provided Dolby Atmos-powered multi-directional audio, sees a few devices culled.

The iPhone XR, iPad mini 5, iPad Air 3, and 6th, 7th and 8th-gen iPads are no longer included as devices that can support the advanced audio tech via the built-in speakers.

That would not have provided such a great experience anyway, given the limited nature of those low-powered speakers, but it’s still a potential blow for owners of those devices.

The updated support document now says: “The built-in speakers on an iPhone XS or later (except iPhone SE), iPad Pro 12.9-inch (3rd generation or later), iPad Pro 11-inch, or iPad Air (4th generation),” with the culled devices now missing.

It will be possible to use those culled devices to listen to Spatial Audio tracks through headphones, so all is not lost. Those headphones will need to be of a decent standard in order to mimic the experience designed for an array of speakers.

However, because Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos doesn’t use head-tracking tech you don’t actually need headphones, hence the ability to pump the experience out through the built-in speakers on some devices.

During the announcement of the feature, Apple explained: “Spatial Audio with support for Dolby Atmos to Apple Music. Dolby Atmos is a revolutionary, immersive audio experience that enables artists to mix music so the sound comes from all around and from above. By default, Apple Music will automatically play Dolby Atmos tracks on all AirPods and Beats headphones with an H1 or W1 chip, as well as the built-in speakers in the latest versions of iPhone, iPad, and Mac. Apple Music will be adding new Dolby Atmos tracks constantly and will be curating a special set of Dolby Atmos playlists to help listeners find the music they love.”

Apple is now listing Android devices on its support page, following an update for the Google Play store version of Apple Music yesterday. Apple is advising Android device owners to contact the manufacturer for news of compatibility.

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