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ALAC codec goes open-source


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Apple's lossless ALAC file format is going open source, the company has confirmed. In doing so, ALAC has followed FLAC into the same field of audio codecs.

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.

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Nice move by Apple, but it's still going to be hard for ALAC to get any real usage outside of the Mac/iOS ecosystem - FLAC has already become the defacto choice for lossless compression.

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I haven't looked at the specifications, but agreed, FLAC is like a standard for the users. Also, I hate that I couldn't add flac files to my iPod inspite of FLAC being open source and totally free from any royalties, etc.

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