Report: Apple working on high-fidelity iTunes audio with adaptive streaming

The Guardian reports that Apple is working on a new high-definition audio format to adapt to bandwidth or hardware capabilities. Presumably, Apple will leverage the new format to distribute high-fidelity music through iTunes and perhaps upgrade the iTunes Match service that currently provides matched songs in 256Kbps AAC format.

It is believed the new audio format would intelligently adjust itself to the bandwidth and storage available on the receiving device. Such a description also gives hope that an iTunes music streaming service, which is akin to Spotify and based on Apple’s Lala acquisition, could be in the works.

According to “a source with inside knowledge of the process,” the Cupertino, Calif.-based company is working with a London studio to prep existing audio files for the new format. An anonymous source told the paper:

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.

Apple’s annual iPod refresh that usually takes place in fall could be a fitting venue to announce the new high-fidelity format. Another possibility is the forthcoming iPad 3 event rumored to take place March 7.

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What do these new items in iTunes mean about your Match Library?

If you don’t know by now, Apple has officially opened up their iTunes Match service to the public, bringing with it 256-kbps AAC DRM-free copies of your non-iTunes purchased music for $25 a year. To help familiarize users with the service, Apple has posted the following chart walking us through some new iTunes Match related iCloud icons you’ll start to notice in iTunes.

In addition, they also dropped some helpful guides explaining the ins and outs of the service including Troubleshooting iTunes Match, How to subscribe to iTunes Match, How to add a computer or iOS device to iTunes Match, and How to delete songs from iCloud.

In the troubleshooting guide, we learn you can enable a column within iTunes to display the iTunes Match/iCloud status of any given song in your library. For example, whether it’s a “Matched” song or just “Uploaded”. To do this, click “View > View Options” or press “Command-J“, and click the “iCloud Status” checkbox (same place you also enable “iCloud download”).

A MacRumors forum poster also offers a few helpful hints, while noting iTunes Match keeps your meta-data (a nice touch if you tend to edit data associated with your songs), the post clears up some concerns regarding the intricacies of what happens with your local copies:  Read more