Apple has made a surprising move that will please fans of open source ideals: the release of the source code powering ALAC - the Apple Lossless Audio Codec - under an Apache free software licence.
Developed as a high-quality audio codec specifically for the iPhone, iPad, iPod, Mac and iTunes platforms, ALAC is Apple's answer to FLAC - the Free Lossless Audio Codec. Previously, FLAC had one major advantage: as its name suggests, it's a free software project with source code fully available.
Apple clearly agrees that this is a handy way of getting your codec more widely supported, and has followed suit by releasing the ALAC code under the Apache 2.0 free software licence. As a result, it's now possible to integrate ALAC support into third-party hardware and software platforms.
The released code includes both encoding and decoding capabilities, along with an example command-line utility for converting ALAC-format files to and from Core Audio Format and PCM format.
Apple's decision to open the ALAC code up to third party exploitation will, hopefully, make it significantly easier for developers to add support for the format to their own projects - and potentially to help users free their DRM-free iTunes music collection for use on non-Apple devices.
The project page can be found over on MacOSForge.