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28 October 2011, 10:00

Apple open sources its ALAC lossless audio codec

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Apple logo Apple has announced the release of its ALAC lossless audio codec as open source. The Apple Lossless Audio Codec (ALAC) is used to compress the size of digital audio files without losing any of the original information, making a decoded ALAC stream "bit-for-bit identical to the original uncompressed audio file".

Similar to other lossless codecs like FLAC, files are typically reduced to approximately 50 per cent of their original size. File formats such as MP3 and AAC are considered to be "lossy", in that converting to them results in the loss of some fidelity while providing much better compression.

The ALAC codec is already supported on Mac OS X, in iTunes, on iOS devices like the iPhone and iPad, and on most iPods. The new ALAC Project includes the source code for the codec's encoder and decoder, as well as "alacconvert", a command-line utility that is used to read and write audio to and from Core Audio Format (CAF) and WAVE files.

More details can be found on the Apple Lossless Audio Codec Project web page. The project is hosted on Apple's official Mac OS Forge repository for open source code used in Mac OS X. ALAC source code is made available under version 2.0 of the Apache License, which includes a patent grant.


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