Apple unveils spatial audio as Delta orders iPhone 12 for 19,000 staff - Main

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Apple is not saying much about its long-term plans for immersive technology, but the introduction of spatial audio for Apple Music and Delta’s aim to use augmented reality during flights are signs they could be big

Quick read

➨ Apple brings spatial audio with support for Dolby Atmos to Apple Music
➨  Apple Music will automatically play Dolby Atmos tracks on all AirPods and Beats headphones with an H1 or W1 chip, as well as the built-in speakers in the latest versions of iPhone, iPad, and Mac
➨ Delta Air Lines orders iPhone 12 smartphones for every one of its 19,000+ flight attendants
➨ Attendants will be able to fully utilise augmented reality capabilities during flights

The story

From high-spec mixed reality headsets to a smartphone moment that will take virtual and augmented reality to the next level, rumours abound about what Apple has planned for immersive technology. While the company is itself saying very little, two recent announcements point toward a promising future.

On top of lossless audio, Apple announced yesterday that it is bringing spatial audio with support for Dolby Atmos to Apple Music, its own streaming service that competes with Spotify and YouTube Music.

This is promising because spatial audio is a key component of quality immersive experiences in virtual and augmented reality, enabling sound to be delivered “from all around and from above”, as Apple puts it.

Going forward, Apple Music will automatically play Dolby Atmos tracks on all AirPods and Beats headphones with an H1 or W1 chip, as well as the built-in speakers in the latest versions of iPhone, iPad, and Mac.

Apple unveils spatial audio as Delta orders iPhone 12 for 19,000 staff - Spatial audio
Spatial audio with Dolby Atmos is coming to Apple Music subscribers in June

Making this spatial audio solution the default for compatible tracks on its core hardware and accessories suggests Apple is betting on deeper immersion as a must for future devices, possibly the kind it has long-rumoured to be developing.

The other promising announcement came at the end of April, in the form of a big contract win from Delta Air Lines through its partnership with AT&T Business.

Delta Air Lines ordered iPhone 12 smartphones for every one of its 19,000+ flight attendants, in a bid to harness AT&T’s US 5G network to enhance the travel experience for all of its passengers.

Apple, Delta and AT&T believe attendants will be able to fully utilise augmented reality capabilities during flights, with 5G’s presence in more than 14,000 cities and towns making the most of the smartphone’s connectivity and performance.

Flight attendants equipped with an iPhone 12 will be able to more accurately and quickly assess in-cabin inventory using augmented reality and the smartphone’s camera.

Augmented reality will also be used to deliver immersive training. Flight attendants will be able to use the immersive technology to perform critical tasks, including safety checks and passenger assistance, from nearly anywhere.

In a press announcement, Allison Ausband, senior vice president for in-flight service at Delta, says: “Our flight attendants are the finest professionals taking to the skies day in and day out, so when we were looking for outstanding products that meet the Delta standard, Apple and AT&T were top of mind. This relationship is a step towards the future of a more connected and human onboard experience.”

Apple is also making the most of LiDAR on the iPhone 12 Pro and iPad Pro models, with its Clips video creation app recently adding AR Spaces, which enables creators to transform a space by adding immersive visual effects that map to the contours of a room.

Apple unveils spatial audio as Delta orders iPhone 12 for 19,000 staff - Clips AR Spaces
Clips 3.1 introduces AR Spaces

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Images: Apple

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