Apple is reportedly working on a new audio format that's supposedly all about enabling a better streaming and downloading for users of Apple's iTunes Match service. The new format should hopefully enable Apple to increase the quality of audio being delivered without increasing its file size. The same format could also be an adaptive streaming format so a lower quality audio stream could also be delivered in times of low bandwidth availability. According to UK newspaper The Guardian:

It is believed that Apple will use the new file type to upgrade its iTunes Match service, which allows users to re-download music from iCloud to their Apple devices. A source with inside knowledge of the process says Apple has asked a London studio to prepare audio files for a new streaming format that will adapt to bandwidth or hardware capabilities. "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," said the source, who requested to remain anonymous.

Musician Neil Young claimed back in January that modern digital music was so highly compressed that 95 percent of the audio content was lost. He believed that Steve Jobs was working on a solution to the problem. The recent Mastered for iTunes seems like the first steps towards that. Maybe we will soon find out what that solution may be. 

It is even possible that Apple will show off the new music streaming technology alongside the expected March announcement of the next iPad 3.

Source: The Guardian