Several users on Reddit’s r/AirPodsMax discovered that Spatial Audio suddenly appeared to be working in the Netflix app on their iPhone and iPad.
The good news is that it’s not a false start this time either, as Netflix has confirmed to both 9to5Mac and MacRumors independently that the rollout of Spatial Audio is indeed happening officially.
It’s unclear right now how many titles will be available in true Dolby Atmos Spatial Audio, but from our testing it appears that Netflix is at least supporting positional audio for all of its content throughout the entire app, much like Apple has done with its TV app since it first introduced the feature last year.
As with Spatial Audio support on other video streaming services, you’ll need a pair of AirPods Pro or AirPods Max to take advantage of it, which differs from the Dolby Atmos Spatial Audio feature added to Apple Music earlier this year, which works with any number of third-party headphones.
With Spatial Audio now available on Netflix, however, users of Apple’s higher-end AirPods will enjoy positional audio — sound that orients itself to your iPhone or iPad screen — across the entire Netflix catalogue, plus a more immersive soundstage for movies and TV shows encoded in Dolby Atmos.
When Spatial Audio first launched with iOS 14 last fall, it was confined to Apple’s own TV app, with limited support from other streaming services, with Disney+ being about the only one that was ready to go right out of the gate.
To be clear, however, Spatial Audio wasn’t just available with Apple’s own content on its Apple TV+ service — anything you watched directly through the TV app supported at least positional audio. This included movies and TV shows purchased or rented from iTunes — even old standard-definition content — plus anything played from third-party streaming services that offered their content through Apple TV Channels.
Still, since Netflix remains the most popular streaming service on the planet, it’s fair to say that many users have been waiting for Spatial Audio to make its way into the Netflix app.
We actually heard it was coming back in January, from a “very knowledgeable source” on Netflix’s developer team. However, when Netflix denied it a few weeks later, we weren’t quite sure what to think. Some reports suggested that the source within Netflix may have been confusing better audio support for Spatial Audio, but now it looks more like they simply spoke out of turn, letting the cat out of the bag prematurely.
According to Netflix, the feature is still rolling out, so it may not be available to all users right away. The good news, however, is that we don’t imagine the rollout will take too long, as there are numerous reports of it appearing for multiple users, and we can confirm that it’s working for us here as well.
So far, Netflix has only confirmed that Spatial Audio is coming to the iPhone and iPad, and not the Apple TV. To be fair, however, the current release of tvOS 14 doesn’t offer Spatial Audio support yet — that will be coming this fall in tvOS 15. While the latest version of the Netflix app for tvOS does appear to trigger the Spatial Audio settings, it doesn’t appear to be fully operational quite yet.
Credit: Kaspars Grinvalds / Shutterstock