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

On 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

(View all)
Avatar
116 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)
Avatar
116 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)
Avatar
116 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)
Avatar
116 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)
Avatar
116 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)
Avatar
116 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)

Top Stories

Here's How You Can Download iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 Around the World [It's Out]

Wednesday September 16, 2020 2:36 am PDT by
Apple's official public release of iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 dropped on Wednesday, September 16, just a day after the company released the Golden Master to third-party developers. Also set to be made available to the general public for the first time are watchOS 7 and tvOS 14. Getting Started With iOS 14 Video Click image to watch iOS 14 Getting Started While that's left a lot of developers...

When Will the iPhone 12 Launch? Here's What We Know

Wednesday September 16, 2020 6:12 am PDT by
Yesterday's "Time Flies" Apple event saw the release of the Apple Watch Series 6, Apple Watch SE, iPad 8, and iPad Air 4, but no new iPhone models. Rumors before the event strongly alleged that it would not see the unveiling of new iPhones, with many reports pointing to an October launch. The lack of new iPhone models yesterday seems to confirm that the iPhone 12 lineup will not appear...

Apple Releases iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 With Home Screen Redesign, App Library, Compact UI, Translate App, Scribble Support, App Clips, and More

Wednesday September 16, 2020 12:48 pm PDT by
Apple has released iOS 14 and iPadOS 14, the newest operating system updates designed for the iPhone and iPad. As with all of Apple's software updates, iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 can be downloaded for free. iOS 14 is available on the iPhone 6s and later, while iPadOS 14 is available on the iPad Air 2 and later. The updates are available on all eligible devices over-the-air in the Settings app. To ...

Apple Updates AirPods 2 and AirPods Pro Firmware to Version 3A283

Monday September 14, 2020 11:24 am PDT by
Apple today released new 3A283 firmware updates for the second-generation AirPods and the AirPods Pro. The second-generation AirPods are being updated from the 2D15 firmware they were previously running, while the AirPods Pros are being updated from the 2D27 firmware they had installed previously. Apple does not provide details on what's included in refreshed firmware so we don't know what's ...

Spotify Says Apple One Bundle Will Cause 'Irreparable Harm to Developer Community'

Tuesday September 15, 2020 12:26 pm PDT by
Apple today announced Apple One, a series of new subscription bundles that provide access to various Apple services at a combined monthly price. In response, Spotify sent out statements (via Peter Kafka) to the press decrying Apple's anti-competitive behavior and calling on "competition authorities" to stop Apple before it is able to cause "irreparable harm" to developers.Once again, Apple...

iOS 14, iPadOS 14, watchOS 7, and tvOS 14 Will Be Released September 16

Tuesday September 15, 2020 11:06 am PDT by
Apple today announced that iOS 14, iPadOS 14, watchOS 7, and tvOS 14 will be officially released on Wednesday, September 16. Apple has seeded the final Golden Master beta versions of each update to developers in advance. ‌iOS 14‌ and iPadOS 14 introduce dozens of new features, including a redesigned Home Screen that supports widgets on the iPhone and iPad for the first time. For more...

New AirPods Pro Firmware Introduces Spatial Audio Support and Automatic Switching

Monday September 14, 2020 12:22 pm PDT by
The new 3A283 firmware that Apple released for the AirPods Pro today appears to introduce support for Spatial Audio, a new feature coming to the higher-end AirPods with iOS 14. Multiple reports on Twitter and the MacRumors forums indicate that the firmware update adds a "Spatial Audio" option to the Control Center, which can be activated to enable the feature. Note that using Spatial Audio...

Apple Releases Safari 14 for Mac Ahead of macOS Big Sur Launch

Wednesday September 16, 2020 1:40 pm PDT by
macOS Big Sur didn't launch alongside iOS 14, iPadOS 14, tvOS 14, and watchOS 7 today, with the update coming later this fall, but Apple did release the Safari 14 update for macOS Catalina and macOS Mojave users. Safari 14 brings improved performance, customizable start pages, a Privacy Report to see which cross-site trackers are being blocked, and a new tab bar design that provides tab...

Full Transcript of Apple's 'Time Flies' Event With Apple Watch and iPad Updates

Tuesday September 15, 2020 8:46 am PDT by
Apple's virtual "Time Flies" event kicks off today at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time, with Apple expected to debut new Apple Watch and iPad models, but it appears we may not see the iPhone 12 until next month. While we're not expecting to see new iPhones today, Apple's software updates for its various platforms are likely nearly ready for launch, so we may be hearing more about them today. Check...

Everything Apple Announced at Today's iPad and Apple Watch Event in Just Seven Minutes

Tuesday September 15, 2020 2:19 pm PDT by
Apple today held its annual September event, but this year was a bit different because no new iPhones were announced. The "Time Flies" event focused on the Apple Watch Series 6 and the iPad Air, and saw the debut of a new Apple One services bundle. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. It took Apple an hour to introduce the new devices, but we've recapped the event in...