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Is Apple about to offer 'adaptive streaming' on iTunes?

iTunes Match

Now this is interesting: The Guardian reports that Apple is developing a new audio file format that will offer "adaptive streaming" to provide high- or low-quality files to users of its iCloud service.

This could mean that users with a fast internet connection at home could download or stream music to an iOS device in 24-bit/96kHz high definition, for example, while lower quality might be used for streaming over 3G while out and about, to avoid using excessive mobile internet bandwidth.

Such a system would adjust itself to the bandwidth and storage available on the receiving device.

If the rumours are to be believed, Apple may use the new audio file type to upgrade its iTunes Match service. An announcement could be made on March 7th, when the company is widely expected to unveil the iPad 3.

According to The Guardian, a source "with inside knowledge of the process" says Apple has asked a London studio to prepare audio files for a new streaming format that will automatically adapt to bandwidth or hardware capabilities.

"All of a sudden, all your audio from iTunes is in HD rather than AAC. Users wouldn't have to touch a thing – their library will improve in an instant," a source told The Guardian.

Earlier this year, Neil Young was reported as saying that since the death of Apple founder Steve Jobs, the company had gone back on its commitment to improve the quality of songs it sells on iTunes.

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