The Lightning terminal with iOS 9 is compatible up to 192kHz/24Bit, but we do not have information on the sampling frequency of Apple Music download music.
As Eric Slivka of MacRumors points out, this isn’t the first time we’ve heard this rumour:
A year and a half ago, music blogger Robert Hutton claimed Apple was working to roll out high-resolution audio for the iTunes Store, and Mac Otakara made similar claims about an HD Audio format and new hardware being planned for release alongside iOS 8 later that year.
If much of the Apple Music catalogue will be offered in a lossless format, that solves the availability problems of high-res audio. However, it’s still pretty much impossible to distinguish between high-quality lossy and lossless formats, at least as far as most people and most kinds of music are concerned. When paired with Apple’s EarPods, there’s probably no way anyone can tell the difference.
Music often sounds like crap today because producers and mastering engineers mix for volume rather than dynamics, not because songs are typically played in lossy compressed formats. That’s the problem that needs solving, and Apple has influential employees within their ranks who could begin solving it by, say, doubling-down on the Mastered for iTunes program. One problem: they are victims and perpetrators of the loudness war, too.
Update: Lossless audio, being an archival format, seems ill-suited for streaming. Perhaps lossless audio becomes the purchasing option, while lossy formats will prevail for streaming?