Apple's Lossless Audio Codec (ALAC) Now Open Source

iTunes10On MacOSForge, Apple has announced that they are releasing the Apple Lossless Audio Codec as an open source project:

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.

The Apple Lossless Audio Codec is a similar to other "lossless" codecs such as FLAC which offer audio compression without any loss in audio information. ALAC is said to compress files only by "about half" as compared to the originals.

Formats such as MP3 and AAC are considered "lossy" and result in much greater compression but at the cost of some fidelity. The main advantage of using ALAC over competing lossless formats is that ALAC is supported by all of Apple's iPods and iOS devices. The format had already been reverse engineered prior to this release, but this opens the door to even more products supporting both ALAC creation and playback.

The project has been released under the Apache license.

Top Rated Comments

arn Avatar
130 months ago
The main advantage of using competing lossless formats is that they are supported by ALL devices. ...even ipods and iphones!

This is wrong. iPods and iPhones don't support FLAC other lossless formats, unless you are talking uncompressed.

arn
Score: 50 Votes (Like | Disagree)
arn Avatar
130 months ago
Can someone explain what "half as much" means? I though the ALAC didn't create fidelity loss. Or is some compression possible without such?
Sure, of course, some compression is possible without data loss. ALAC files are roughly 50% of uncompressed.

.zip is lossless. If it wasn't all your programs would break after going through compression/decompression.

Think of this: AAAAAAAA compresses to 8A which can be uncompressed to AAAAAAAA without any data loss.

arn
Score: 40 Votes (Like | Disagree)
JonathanK81 Avatar
130 months ago
The main advantage of using competing lossless formats is that they are supported by ALL devices on any platform.
They're not. Many devices do not natively support FLAC. iOS devices will natively support ALAC, so that will outnumber "all devices" as you put it.


Can someone explain what "half as much" means? I though the ALAC didn't create fidelity loss. Or is some compression possible without such?
It doesn't create loss in sound. It's a lossless format. What they mean by compression is the file size. So if the original file is 30MB, ALAC compression will make it 15MB in file size but still sound like the original, with no loss of audio.
Score: 23 Votes (Like | Disagree)
arn Avatar
130 months ago
Android's market share has long surpassed that of iOS. I'd say theres little debate over which open source format will have more success.

Not to start a platform argument, but Android's marketshare may be bigger than the iPhone's. But if you include all iPods (non iOS ones), iPod Touches, and iPads, that market size is certainly still bigger than Android. In terms of devices which support ALAC.

arn
Score: 20 Votes (Like | Disagree)
batchtaster Avatar
130 months ago
Good news for widespread support, but one wonders why Apple didn't just go with FLAC in the first place.

As with most things Apple, presumably because they thought they could do better. They don't tend to do anything that they don't think is an improvement on something that already exists. If I recall correctly, isn't ALAC about half the file size?

The main advantage of using competing lossless formats is that they are supported by ALL devices on any platform*.

* actual value of "all" and "any" may vary.

Fixed.
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
*LTD* Avatar
130 months ago
The main advantage of using ALAC over competing lossless formats is that ALAC is supported by all of Apple's iPods and iOS devices.

This is key. And especially appropriate considering how massive the iOS ecosystem is.
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Related Stories

studio buds family

Beats Studio Buds Debuting Today With Active Noise Cancellation, Stemless Design, and More for $150

Monday June 14, 2021 8:00 am PDT by
We've seen a lot of teasers about the Beats Studio Buds over the past month since they first showed up in Apple's beta software updates, and today they're finally official. The Beats Studio Buds are available to order today in red, white, and black ahead of a June 24 ship date, and they're priced at $149.99. The Studio Buds are the first Beats-branded earbuds to truly compete with AirPods...
gradiente iphone white

Brazilian Electronics Company Revives Long-Running iPhone Trademark Dispute

Tuesday May 19, 2020 1:06 pm PDT by
Apple has been involved in a long-running iPhone trademark dispute in Brazil, which was revived today by IGB Electronica, a Brazilian consumer electronics company that originally registered the "iPhone" name in 2000. IGB Electronica fought a multi-year battle with Apple in an attempt to get exclusive rights to the "iPhone" trademark, but ultimately lost, and now the case has been brought to...
youtube apple tv

YouTube Discontinuing 3rd-Generation Apple TV App, AirPlay Still Available

Wednesday February 3, 2021 3:09 pm PST by
YouTube is planning to stop supporting its YouTube app on the third-generation Apple TV models, where YouTube has long been available as a channel option. A 9to5Mac reader received a message about the upcoming app discontinuation, which is set to take place in March.Starting early March, the YouTube app will no longer be available on Apple TV (3rd generation). You can still watch YouTube on...
YouTube Picture in Picture Feature

YouTube Premium Subscribers Can Now Use iOS Picture-in-Picture: Here's How

Wednesday August 25, 2021 3:55 am PDT by
Google has rolled out picture-in-picture support as an "experimental" feature for YouTube premium subscribers, allowing them to watch video in a small window when the app is closed. If you're a premium YouTube subscriber looking to try out picture-in-picture, follow these steps: Launch a web browser and sign into your YouTube account at YouTube.com. Navigate to www.youtube.com/new. Scroll...
2012macpro

Apple Outlines Metal-Capable Cards Compatible With macOS Mojave on 2010 and 2012 Mac Pro Models

Monday September 24, 2018 3:26 pm PDT by
Apple's new macOS Mojave update is not compatible with mid-2010 and mid-2012 Mac Pros with stock GPUs, but it is supported on 2010 and 2012 Mac Pro models that have been upgraded with graphics cards that support Metal. Apple today shared a new support document that provides a list of graphics cards that are Metal-capable, which will be useful for 2010 and 2012 Mac Pro owners who want to...
apple privacy

Apple Publishes FAQ to Address Concerns About CSAM Detection and Messages Scanning

Monday August 9, 2021 1:50 am PDT by
Apple has published a FAQ titled "Expanded Protections for Children" which aims to allay users' privacy concerns about the new CSAM detection in iCloud Photos and communication safety for Messages features that the company announced last week. "Since we announced these features, many stakeholders including privacy organizations and child safety organizations have expressed their support of...
iphone 13 teal with text

Apple Expecting iPhone and iPad Supply Constraints in September Quarter

Tuesday July 27, 2021 2:34 pm PDT by
During today's earnings call covering the third fiscal quarter of 2021 (second calendar quarter), Apple CFO Luca Maesteri said that Apple is expecting supply constraints to affect the iPhone and the iPad in the coming quarter. "The supply constraints that we've seen in the June quarter will be higher in the September quarter," said Maestri. The constraints will impact iPhone and iPad sales...
anker lightning cable mfi

Unwrap a New Apple Device? Stock Up on Extra Certified Lightning Cables for as Little as $6

Monday December 25, 2017 5:45 am PST by
If you unwrapped an Apple product today it likely came with one of the company's first-party Lightning cables, but having an extra on hand is always a good idea, so you can place it in other rooms in your house, in your car, or in a bag when you travel. For that reason, now's a good time to shop for third-party Lightning cables that are cheaper than Apple's own accessory, but still Made For...
apple screen time screen icons

Persistent Kids Finding Loopholes in Apple's Screen Time Limits

Tuesday October 15, 2019 9:44 am PDT by
Apple is currently engaged in a cat-and-mouse game with persistent kids looking to circumvent Screen Time restrictions, but the company has been receiving some criticism for not moving quickly enough to lock down some of the loopholes, reports The Washington Post. A few of the loopholes and ways for parents to shut them down are documented on the site Protect Young Eyes, while these and...
os x mountain lion macs 16x9 2

Apple Makes OS X Lion and Mountain Lion Free to Download

Wednesday June 30, 2021 12:19 pm PDT by
Apple recently dropped the $19.99 fee for OS X Lion and Mountain Lion, making the older Mac updates free to download, reports Macworld. Apple has kept OS X 10.7 Lion and OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion available for customers who have machines limited to the older software, but until recently, Apple was charging $19.99 to get download codes for the updates. As of last week, these updates no...