Called 'Spatialize Stereo' the new feature will also work with macOS Monterey. According to 9to5Mac (opens in new tab), that means devices running these operating systems will be able to simulate Spatial Audio for non-Dolby content, detecting the movement of your head when you're wearing AirPods to change the direction of the sound.
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That means you should be able to play any song from Spotify, for example, and experience it in Spatial Audio, despite the streaming service not supporting the format.
While you won't get a true Dolby Atmos 3D audio experience, Spatialize Stereo should at least give the impression of sound coming at you from different angles, making your movies, shows, and music feel more engaging.
If you do have a compatible device running these operating systems, you can connect your AirPods Pro or Max and begin playing any content. Then, head to the Control Center and hold down the volume slider – according to 9to5Mac, this will bring up the option to enable Spatialize Stereo.
Analysis: Where was the announcement?
Apple's Spatial Audio takes 5.1, 7.1, and Dolby Atmos content and applies directional audio filters, placing sound in a 3D sphere.
What’s unique to Spatial Audio though, is that it uses the built-in accelerometers and gyroscopes inside Apple’s earbuds and headphones to track the position of your head, as well as the position of your iPhone or iPad.
Why Spatialize Stereo wasn't announced at WWDC 2021 is a bit of a mystery – after all, it's a feature that could bring Apple's immersive audio technology to a wider audience.
It's not as though Apple didn't showcase Spatial Audio at the annual developer's conference, announcing that it will extend Spatial Audio support to tvOS and MacOS for AirPods Max and AirPods Pro owners.
Previously, Apple announced that it would be bringing Spatial and Lossless Audio to Apple Music subscribers at no extra cost, in a move that has shaken up the music streaming industry, with most competitors offering hi-res audio and 3D audio formats at a premium.
It may be that the feature never makes it to the public – it's not unheard of for Apple to ditch aspects of the developer beta versions of its operating systems before they're officially launched.
We're hoping that's not the case, though, as Spatialize Stereo could be a game changer for cinephiles and audiophiles alike.