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Netflix is testing Apple spatial audio support for AirPods Pro and Max

Apple Spatial Audio
(Image credit: Apple)

Want to binge through the night on the latest Netflix craze, in glorious surround-sound, on your Apple headphones and iOS device? You could be in luck. Netflix is reportedly testing support for iOS 14’s new spatial audio functionality. 

A report from iPhoneSoft, which cites an anonymous Netflix developer, claims that the streaming giant has actually been testing spatial audio support on the iPhone and iPad since December.

For the uninitiated, spatial audio is essentially Apple’s take on Dolby Atmos for Headphones and Sony’s PS5 3D Audio. It is designed to deliver surround sound and 3D audio via your headphones – specifically your Apple AirPods Pro and AirPods Max headphones. The feature arrived as part of iOS 14 in September 2020.

As noted by 9to5Mac, there isn't a great deal of work required from Netflix to support Apple's spatial audio. The popular TV subscription service already offers surround sound content, which is what spatial audio converts into virtual surround sound – and several streaming services, including Apple TV+, Hulu, and Disney+ already support spatial audio.

Apple's spatial audio feature is exclusive to the AirPods Pro and AirPods Max. It is deployed via a toggle, accessible in the Control Center when Apple's wireless headphones are connected.

One thing to remember, of course, is that only Netflix’s most expensive premium tier supports Dolby Atmos, so it’s highly possible that Netflix will also limit spatial audio support to its Premium subscribers – although as previously mentioned, precise details aren't yet known. 

The iPhoneSoft report doesn’t specify exactly when Netflix will roll out spatial audio, other than a fairly broad spring release idea – and a “limited” catalogue of content.

That said, for owners of Apple's newest (and priciest) headphones, the suggestion of spatial audio on Netflix – and soon – will come as exciting news indeed. 

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Becky has been a full-time staff writer at What Hi-Fi? since March 2019. Prior to gaining her MA in Journalism in 2018, she freelanced as an arts critic alongside a 20-year career as a professional dancer and aerialist – any love of dance is of course tethered to a love of music. Becky has previously contributed to Stuff, FourFourTwo, This is Cabaret and The Stage. When not writing, she dances, spins in the air, drinks coffee, watches football or surfs in Cornwall with her other half – a football writer whose talent knows no bounds.