iOS 11 brings lossless FLAC audio playback to iPhone and iPad

iOS 11 reportedly brings native support for lossless audio encoded in the popular FLAC format to iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. As discovered by Reddit users, Apple has included full playback support for FLAC audio files on iOS 11. iTunes and iOS 10 currently lack built-in support for the FLAC codec, though people can use a third-party app to enjoy FLAC audio.

At this stage, only the new Files app has support for lossless playback of FLAC-encoded audio files. Of course, things could change in subsequent beats as Apple continues to refine iOS 11 ahead of its fall release, at which point iTunes could be updated with full playback support for the popular format.

As things currently stand, any FLAC files synced to an iOS device through iCloud Drive, Dropbox or Box can be played from within the Files app. FLAC files are currently unsupported via the Music app on iOS 11.

For what it’s worth, I tried sending an FLAC audio file to my iOS 11-enabled iPhone through AirDrop, to no avail. My iPhone didn’t know what to do with the file, putting up the standard prompt offering to download an app from App Store.

No matter how you look at it, this is a big win for music lovers and audiophiles.

The FLAC format bring the full quality of the original recording. FLAC, or Free Lossless Audio Codec, features lossless compression of digital audio which can reduce the size of the audio file to between 50 percent and 60 percent of its original size, without degrading audio quality of the original.

iOS 10 currently supports the AAC, Protected AAC, HE-AAC, MP3, MP3 VBR, Dolby Digital (AC-3), Dolby Digital Plus (E-AC-3), Audible (formats 2, 3, 4, Audible Enhanced Audio, AAX and AAX+), Apple Lossless, AIFF and WAV audio formats.

The ability to play lossless FLAC audio on an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch with iOS 11 could also signify that HomePod, Apple’s upcoming smart speaker, may support high-quality FLAC audio.