Apple Lossless Audio Codec (ALAC) was a codec developed by Apple to be used in its ‘i’ Gadgets, Now they have released it under the Apache 2.0 License.
By releasing the codec under the Apache 2.0 License, Apple has made the move on Open Sourcing! i.e ALAC is now an Open Source Codec. The codec is very powerful and can compress high sized music files to approximately half its size without losing its sound quality.
The codec outputs a file with the extension .m4a which can be played by all iPods and iPhone devices, The codec is not DRM (Digital Rights Management) Protected.
The decoding speed of ALAC makes it perfect to be used with devices where there is limited power supply available like the iPods. ALAC was designed as an alternative to the popular FLAC which was not compatible with Apple gadgets.
The Apple Lossless Audio Codec project contains the sources for the ALAC encoder and decoder. Also included is an example command line utility, called ‘alacconvert’, to read and write audio data to/from Core Audio Format (CAF) and WAVE (WAV) files. A description of a ‘magic cookie’ for use with files based on the ISO base media file format (e.g. MP4 and M4A) is included as well.
Taking a brief look at the history of this codec we can find that the Apple Lossless Encoder or Apple Lossless Audio Codec was introduced into the Mac OS X Core Audio framework on April 28, 2004 together with the QuickTime 6.5.1 update, and thus available in iTunes as of version 4.5 and above.
Now you might be wondering what a codec is? Well, A codec is a technical name for “compression/decompression” or “coder/decoder”. A codec is a computer program that both shrinks large movie files, and makes them playable on your computer. Codec programs are required for your media player to play your downloaded music and movies.
Often you will find that Windows Media Player has not got sufficient inbuilt codecs to play all your varied Media Files, In such cases you can download and install this codec pack which will help you to play all the media files on your Windows Media Player. [LINK]
What do you have to say on the ALAC going Open Source? Developers have your say!