Apple introduced 3D audio support for iPhone and iPad in combination with AirPods Pro or AirPods Max with iOS 14 last fall. According to current reports, the streaming service Netflix is testing a corresponding update of its app to enable its subscribers to use this feature.
According to an anonymous Netflix developer, the provider has been testing 3D audio, also known as spatial audio, support since December 2020. If a movie offers the necessary audio content, a virtual surround sound can be created in the ear of AirPods wearers thanks to this feature.
To use 3D audio, Apple requires at least an iPhone or iPad running iOS 14 and AirPods Pro or AirPods Max. These devices have the necessary sensors to track the user's movements and thus adjust the sound accordingly.
Netflix needs to catch up: other services already support 3D audio
As 9to5Mac writes, not much work is needed to support 3D audio in the Netflix app. For example, many of the provider's movies or series already include the necessary surround sound. Other streaming services like Apple TV+, Hulu, and Disney+ already support virtual cinema sound from Apple's headphones, so Netflix has some catching up to do.
However, the site also points out that only the most expensive Netflix subscription currently supports surround sound in the form of Dolby Atmos. So it's quite possible that the feature will only be available to those subscribers in the future.
3D audio aside from iOS: Galaxy Buds Pro support 360-degree audio as well
While the current report is limited to Netflix on iPhone and iPad, it's conceivable that the streaming service could potentially unlock the corresponding feature for Samsung devices in the future. After all, the recently unveiled Galaxy Buds Pro also offer 360-degree audio.
It is not known when exactly the Netflix app for iPhone and iPad will be expanded to support 3D audio. So far, there is only talk that it could start in the spring with a "limited catalogue".