Apple's ALAC codec goes open-source

The release of a new iPhone or other Apple product is always an exciting event for fans of the company and its technology. News that was not as well publicized, however, was the company's announcement that ALAC was going open-source, as Engadget reports.

Apple's ALAC file format is one that may have slipped past many people, for various reasons. For groups of audiophiles, the transition to open-source is a prospect they are eagerly awaiting. ALAC, like FLAC, are both 'lossless' codecs. In plain English, this means they give a perfect reproduction of the original source material, while still retaining smaller file sizes through some compression. FLAC is not available on Apple devices, without some additional legwork in order to make it operate. However, Apple's own file format will work with Apple's devices natively. AAC and MP3 are considered 'lossy' formats, meaning they do not give a perfect reproduction of the original material. 

The code for ALAC has been released under the Apache license. While it could take some time to make an impact outside of Apple devices and audiophiles, the competition with FLAC could finally begin. Support for the codec could also arrive on other devices; both the hardware and software varieties. The official entry is on MacOSForge along with a link to the licensing agreements.

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

Microsoft shows off (again) Xbox Companion app for Windows Phone

Next Story

Focus Flash and Focus S coming to AT&T on Nov. 6

26 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

A good move by Apple, certainly, however I would be rather more impressed to see FLAC support added to iPods via a software update.

i agree with n_K. because FLAC is pretty much already the standard as far as lossless formats go.

so apple doing this is pretty much pointless. but i guess it can't be a bad thing though

Why did they even bother making this crap when FLAC already existed, and they're basically exactly the same!? They honestly cared that much about making it incompatible with every other OS and device on the market and found out the attempt failed!?

n_K said,
Why did they even bother making this crap when FLAC already existed, and they're basically exactly the same!? They honestly cared that much about making it incompatible with every other OS and device on the market and found out the attempt failed!?

Both FLAC and ALAC came out around at a similar time, just a few years apart. I'm not surprised Apple attempted to have their own codec succeed. Now that it's more or less in the dustbin of history besides Apple devices it's nice that they released it under the Apache licence. They could've just let it die out like any other codec out there, but instead it's in the hands of the opensource community now.

OuchOfDeath said,

Both FLAC and ALAC came out around at a similar time, just a few years apart. I'm not surprised Apple attempted to have their own codec succeed. Now that it's more or less in the dustbin of history besides Apple devices it's nice that they released it under the Apache licence. They could've just let it die out like any other codec out there, but instead it's in the hands of the opensource community now.

It's good it's out there, don't get me wrong, but I just find apple a bit of a joke, not having support for FLAC by coming up with basically the exact same thing but just so it's incompatible.

n_K said,

It's good it's out there, don't get me wrong, but I just find apple a bit of a joke, not having support for FLAC by coming up with basically the exact same thing but just so it's incompatible.

Agreed. Unfortunately that's often how Apple operates. Still, they offer some degree to the opensource community.

I doubt this will make many more people use it, using a lossless format on an apple product is just stupid. 64 GB maximum is like 128 albums.

De.Bug said,
I doubt this will make many more people use it, using a lossless format on an apple product is just stupid. 64 GB maximum is like 128 albums.

Not everyone needs millions of songs.

Ninja Grinch said,

Not everyone needs millions of songs.

Well, I'd at least like to have a variety. I mean I could probably fill 128 albums with 15 artists,

De.Bug said,
I doubt this will make many more people use it, using a lossless format on an apple product is just stupid. 64 GB maximum is like 128 albums.

Why the hell would you use lossless audio on a tablet or a phone?

kavazovangel said,

Why the hell would you use lossless audio on a tablet or a phone?


If you were not using it on an Apple tablet or phone why else would you use ALAC? FLAC is the standard for lossless on the computer.

De.Bug said,
I doubt this will make many more people use it, using a lossless format on an apple product is just stupid. 64 GB maximum is like 128 albums.
I only usually carry around about 60 albums that I'm currently listening to, I think it's better this way than having my entire library

De.Bug said,
I doubt this will make many more people use it, using a lossless format on an apple product is just stupid. 64 GB maximum is like 128 albums.

You do realise that for some of us we archive out CD's in lossless format for security and flexibility when it comes to re-encoding from a lossless to a lossy format for a portable player.