Apple's iOS 11 update could deliver FLAC and hi-res audio support

It seems that Apple's latest operating system iOS 11 may be able to play high-resolution FLAC audio files through the recently announced Files application.

According to user 'atm153' on Reddit , "throw some FLACs in iCloud Drive... and you can play them back directly on the device in Files. Tested on my 6S Plus on iOS 11 Beta 1".

FLAC is the go-to format for lossless audio but you currently have to use a workaround to get FLAC files on to Apple devices. Apple has its own lossless file format, Apple Lossless (ALAC), but wider support for ALAC is limited.

One thing the Reddit post doesn't confirm is the original sample rate of the files or the sample rate being played back by the iPhone, nor the process the user went through to get the file playing. It's possible the iPhone's DAC downsamples the file before playback.

That said, if it does point to FLAC support on iPhones, could it also mean Apple is contemplating lossless audio elsewhere? Apple Music currently lags behind Deezer, Tidal and Qobuz by not offering a lossless, CD-quality streaming tier - might this be rectified around the launch of the next iPhone?

Certainly, rumours last year suggested Spotify was considering adding a lossless audio tier. We'll almost certainly have to wait until the new iPhone launch, which normally takes place in September, for any official news.

The iOS 11 update was revealed at Apple's WWDC event, where the company launched multi-room support via AirPlay 2, and its Siri-controlled speaker, the HomePod.

Read more:

Apple HomePod hands-on review

Spotify Hi-Fi tier set to offer lossless audio

How to play hi-res music on your iPhone

Everything you need to know about high-resolution audio

MQA Audio explained

LG's new G6+ phone includes a Quad DAC

Adam was a staff writer for What Hi-Fi?, reviewing consumer gadgets for online and print publication, as well as researching and producing features and advice pieces on new technology in the hi-fi industry. He has since worked for PC Mag as a contributing editor and is now a science and technology reporter for The Independent.