Apple Makes Its Lossless Audio Codec (ALAC) an Open Source Project


Photo: Apple
Photo: Apple

Apple’s Lossless Audio Codec (ALAC) was integrated into the company’s Mac OS X platform back in 2004, and made its way into QuickTime and iTunes software shortly afterwards. Today, Apple has released the audio codec as open source project.

It made the announcement on MacOSForge, which read:

The Apple Lossless Audio Codec (ALAC) is a lossless audio codec developed by Apple and deployed on all of its platforms and devices for some years now. Apple is making the Apple Lossless Audio Codec (ALAC) available as an open source project. Full details can be found on the Apple Lossless Audio Codec project page.

Apple’s codec is designed to offer audio compression without any loss of audio information, and is similar to other lossless audio codecs like FLAC. Apple’s codec, however, compresses files only by “about half” as compared to the originals, according to MacRumors.

Other audio codecs, such as MP3 and AAC, are said to compress audio files considerably more, but also lose some fidelity.

Of course, the major advantage of Apple’s codec is that it is compatible with all of Apple’s devices, including its iPod, iPhone and iPad.

  • Lionel

    This a good news. The non-opensourceness of ALAC made a lot of manufacturers unwilling to support it.

    The *real* good news would have been if Apple would have natively supported FLAC on all its devices, though, as this one is the best supported lossless format out there.

  • jrobles

    This is a very strange move from Apple. Sure they’ve supported an open source project (Webkit) but I’ve never seen an Apple technology been released as open source. Kudos though.

  • gareth edwards

    Yeah, FLAC support would be awesome – we live in hope. Nice move on their part with opening up ALAC though.

  • EE

    Good to see. Now if iTunes did FLAC the bickering could end and people could play either, on any device they want, and at what quality they want.

    Just let me listen to my music how I want to! The idiots can argue all they want and people will figure out what works for them. End of story.

    iTunes plays FLAC – it will never happen though.