Let me put forth a scenario I'm sure has happened to many of you. You are traveling on some sort of public transportation, say a bus or a train or even carpooling in the back seat, and you want to hear a song. You can't bust out your laptop because you're on the go, but you know if you try to stream it on your phone that the 320kbps MP3s (or, even worse FLAC files) in your cloud will buffer for the entire duration of your trip. Your decision is that it's too much of a pain, so you'll just wait your trip out. According to reports, Apple is trying to change that storyline.
The iCompany is reportedly breaking ground on the possibilities of a new audio file format for its iCloud customers, one that will change its quality depending on a number of factors, dictated to it by the device calling for the music. This means that if you're in that car next time, you can call up that song, iCloud will read your device, its storage capabilities, the strength of your connection, etc., and decide that you probably want it quickly, streaming a lower quality version of the track post-haste. Then, when you get home and onto your desktop and pull up the same song, it'll realize you want the highest quality download they have, so you can listen in HD audio.
Though Apple is quoted in this Guardian article as saying they "[do] not comment on rumour and speculation," this falls in line with recent Apple business decisions, from new guidelines encouraging the uploading of high quality audio to their new iTunes mastering guidelines for sound engineers. If the company can create a way to satisfy casual listeners, audiophiles, and those who oscillate between the two, then Apple will simply strengthen its grip on digital music. [Guardian]