Apple HomePods get two big features – but not everyone can use them

HomePod mini review
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Apple’s HomePod and HomePod Mini smart speakers are finally getting support for the company’s bespoke Spatial and Lossless audio formats, two big inclusions that are already part of some iPhone and AirPods feature sets. The caveat? It seems that not everyone will be able to make use of the new audio options just yet.

As reported by Pocket Lint, the beta programs for both HomePods and iOS 15 have added toggleable options for both Spatial and Lossless audio. And while the betas only host a limited number of participants, the new features aren’t showing up for everyone enrolled in the program.

While we have no concrete date for when Spatial and Lossless audio will be made more widely available to general HomePods users – let alone the rest of those participating in the beta – it looks like Apple could be prepping the options for iOS 15’s official release.

Analysis: are Lossless and Spatial audio options a big deal?

The addition of Spatial and Lossless audio options to HomePod smart speakers isn’t the first time Apple has integrated the tech. Options for Lossless and Spatial audio are present in the Apple Music app on both iPhone and Android-powered devices and, as mentioned, the features are compatible with AirPods, too.

Ultimately, the features should be a great addition to Apple HomePod devices. Spatial audio creates a three-dimensional surround sound that’s well suited to a speaker, while Lossless audio will help maintain a high sound quality, a boon for the HomePod Mini’s already incredible sound, for example.

The ability to toggle Spatial and Lossless audio options is also a nice touch, considering that Lossless, especially, can be a significant drain on mobile data, and takes up more bandwidth over a Wi-Fi connection thanks to Lossless audio requiring much larger file sizes. 

Still, if you have no qualms about the higher data footprint and file sizes, Spatial and Lossless audio could turn your HomePod into a go-to smart speaker for music and podcasts. However, we would only recommend the features for serious audio enthusiasts, or those particularly curious as to what they offer in terms of enhanced sound quality.

Rhys Wood
Hardware Editor

Rhys is TRG's Hardware Editor, and has been part of the TechRadar team for more than two years. Particularly passionate about high-quality third-party controllers and headsets, as well as the latest and greatest in fight sticks and VR, Rhys strives to provide easy-to-read, informative coverage on gaming hardware of all kinds. As for the games themselves, Rhys is especially keen on fighting and racing games, as well as soulslikes and RPGs.