Netflix could be testing support for iOS 14’s spatial audio functionality. This comes as a report from iPhoneSoft, which cites an anonymous Netflix developer, claims the streaming giant has been testing spatial audio support on the iPhone and iPad since December 2020.
The report goes on to say that Netflix could launch the feature sometime in spring which is between March to June. Netflix is expected to start offering a small selection of titles that offer support for spatial audio.
If you are not familiar, spatial audio is designed to deliver surround sound and 3D audio via your headphones – specifically the AirPods Pro and AirPods Max. It works by taking content encoded in 5.1, 7.1 and Dolby Atmos signals and applies directional audio filters.
The feature follows your head movements to give you the feeling that the sound is coming from multiple directions, not unlike the experience you get sitting in a movie theatre.
According to 9to5Mac, there isn’t a great deal of work required by Netflix to support Apple’s spatial audio. The streaming giant already offers support for 5.1 and Dolby Atmos on select titles.
Keep in mind that this has only been reported by one source so far. As such, take it with a grain of salt. That being said, it does make sense that Netflix would want to support the format. This is because several of its rivals: Disney Plus, HBO Max and Apple TV Plus are already offer spatial audio on their services. Netflix certainly would not want to be left behind in offering the latest features to its subscribers.
Spatial audio was enabled through an iOS 14 firmware update released in September. To turn on spatial audio you will need to go your Settings then into Bluetooth. Find your AirPods Pro or AirPods Max in the list of connected devices. Hit the Info button next to the AirPods and find the option to turn on spatial audio. There is even a little demonstration that demonstrates the difference between stereo audio and spatial audio.
To take advantage of the feature you will need a pair of AirPods Pro or AirPods Pro Max along with an iPhone or iPad running on iOS 14 or later. You can find the full list of supported devices on Apple’s website.
Neither Netflix nor Apple have made any official comment on whether this upgrade will be coming soon. It is worth mentioning that only Netflix’s highest-end Premium tier supports Dolby Atmos surround sound. It is entirely possible that Netflix may limit Spatial Audio to Premium subscribes too but this is not confirmed yet.