Dynamic head tracking for Apple Music spatial audio is launching later this year

Apple Music recently launched spatial audio and lossless support for subscribers, with dynamic head tracking designed to enhance spatial audio for music arriving later in 2021.


STORY HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Apple Music recently added spatial audio and lossless tracks.
  • The head tracking feature was unavailable at launch.
  • Head tracking for music is coming later this year.

Apple illustration for spatial audio depicting a young male person sitting on their couch, wearing their AirPods Max and listening to music on iPad Pro

Apple Music spatial audio to gain head tracking later in 2021

This development was quietly announced in a support document on the Apple website, with a company writing the following in the section about spatial audio and dynamic head tracking.

We are excited to announce that spatial audio with dynamic head tracking is coming to Apple Music in the fall.

Apple will publicly release iOS 15 and other OS updates in the fall so it seems head tracking for music is included in those releases. Interestingly, music videos that are available on Apple Music already support the dynamic head tracking feature with spatial audio enabled.

How spatial audio works

Spatial audio, a computational audio technique courtesy of Dolby Laboratories and Apple, is currently available for movies and TV shows in the TV app across the iPhone and iPad, with a compatible headset such as the AirPods Pro or AirPods Max.

How to enable and use spatial audio on iPhone

In a nutshell, spatial audio processing creates faux surround sound for customers to enjoy through their AirPods Pro or AirPods Max, based on a stereo, Dolby 5.1, Dolby 7.1 or Dolby Atmos surround sound source. The technique widens the soundscape, isolates speech better and makes individual sounds appear as if moving through three-dimensional space.

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Dynamic head tracking is a feature of spatial audio that uses sensors in your AirPods and iPhone/iPad to dynamically render the surround sound channels in the right place, even as you turn your head or move your device around. Remapping the sound field in real-time so that it stays anchored to the device creates an even more immersive experience for spatial audio.

With tvOS 15 and macOS 12 Monterey, Apple is extending spatial audio to the Apple TV and your Mac computers. On the Apple TV (which has no motion sensors) with tvOS 15, this feature detects when you’ve been sitting down and looking in the same direction for a while.

To reset head tracking on the Apple TV, simply get up and walk around a little.