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Apple doesn’t intend to ever offer a free tier of its streaming service Apple Music. That by itself is no big surprise – Apple has long focused on the premium end of the market – but why is it lagging behind the competition when it comes to audio quality?

Thanks to the success of iTunes and iPod, Apple was once seen as a leader in the digital music world. But it’s long been playing catch-up with Spotify on the streaming front, even more so now Spotify has started offering high-fidelity ‘lossless’ audio to subscribers.

Currently, Apple doesn’t match this offering, despite making some of the best-sounding speakers and headphones out there.

MacWorld commentator Jason Snell argues that Apple has the money, the know-how, and the clout to leapfrog its opponents – if only it would go all-in on the potential offered by its high-end AirPods Pro and AirPods Max.

These devices are already set up for “spatial audio,” a technological wonder that positions multiple audio channels in 3D space around the user. Think of it like surround sound beamed straight to your ears. HomePod does something similar with spatial audio to spread its decibels evenly around a room.

Would you be swayed by a technical leap available only to Apple users? Or would the jump to lossless audio to match Spotify be enough? Or maybe you’re one of the many, many people out there who can’t tell the difference anyway. Either way, Apple needs to be seen to match the competition – preferably without charging extra for it.

Read the full op-ed from Jason for more thoughts and details on Apple Music’s past and future.

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