Patent licensing on MP3 format expires, Apple-preferred AAC now a 'de facto standard'

Posted:
in General Discussion
The Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits has officially halted its licensing program for "certain MP3 related patents and software," effectively making the long-standing music format free to use for developers.




More advanced codecs like AAC are beginning to supplant MP3, Fraunhofer director Bernhard Grill told NPR. Grill in fact claimed that AAC has become the "de facto standard for music download and videos on mobile phones," as it's "more efficient" than MP3 and includes "a lot more functionality."

Although MP3's development dates back to the late 1980s, it only became popular a decade later with the advent of filesharing services like Napster and jukebox software to play it with. Apple accelerated this even further with the release of the iPod and iTunes in 2001, helping to standardize its use.

For years however Apple has sold songs and albums in AAC, and used it as a default sound format for videos, particularly on iPhones, iPads, and more recent iPods. When syncing iTunes with iOS devices, users have an option to automatically convert music to compressed AAC to save space.

The move to AAC as a preferred platform wasn't without self-interest. When launched, Apple used digital rights management embedded in the protocol to appease the recording industry.

Fraunhofer noted that MP3 is still the world's most widely-used audio codec. This is presumably because of its legacy and widespread compatibility, since virtually every device designed to play digital music uses MP3 as a foundation.

The format could gradually fade away as lossless alternatives like FLAC become more practical with increased bandwidth and storage. Apple in fact has its own lossless format in ALAC, but doesn't use it on Apple Music or the iTunes Store.
zroger73

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 12
    sdw2001sdw2001 Posts: 16,918member
    Cool.  Does this mean I don't have to download a separate encoder for Audacity when I go to export something to MP3?  That was exceptionally annoying.  
  • Reply 2 of 12
    rotateleftbyterotateleftbyte Posts: 1,006member
    sdw2001 said:
    Cool.  Does this mean I don't have to download a separate encoder for Audacity when I go to export something to MP3?  That was exceptionally annoying.  
    Probably Yes for the time being. Perhaps a subsequent update to the core software will include the encoder? Why not ask the makers of Audacity directly?

  • Reply 3 of 12
    zroger73zroger73 Posts: 706member
    Awww.

    The first compressed audio file I ever played was called "techo.MP2" (not MP3) that I downloaded over dial-up on my Tandy 2500 SX/33 computer that had a 386SX processor, 4 MB of RAM, and a 107 MB Seagate hard drive with a 250 MB tape backup. The sound quality of that file was more like AM radio. The computer wasn't fast enough to decode an MP3 in real-time - I had to covert it to a .WAV first, but there was only enough space for a few of those on the hard drive!
    jdgazgatorguy
  • Reply 4 of 12
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 4,708member
    It would be nice to see Audacity include the LAME MP3 encoder (or whatever MP3 encoder). It is an inconvenience for both Windows and macOS when installing. 
    edited May 2017
  • Reply 5 of 12
    baconstangbaconstang Posts: 531member
    I've been using AAC and ALAC since they came out.  I only use MP3 when required.
    edredcalilostkiwi
  • Reply 6 of 12
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 6,508member
    zroger73 said:
    Awww.

    The first compressed audio file I ever played was called "techo.MP2" (not MP3) that I downloaded over dial-up on my Tandy 2500 SX/33 computer that had a 386SX processor, 4 MB of RAM, and a 107 MB Seagate hard drive with a 250 MB tape backup. The sound quality of that file was more like AM radio. The computer wasn't fast enough to decode an MP3 in real-time - I had to covert it to a .WAV first, but there was only enough space for a few of those on the hard drive!
    Anybody remember .MOD files?
    zroger73pscooter63
  • Reply 7 of 12
    wigbywigby Posts: 686member
    Up next...Flash.
  • Reply 8 of 12
    linkmanlinkman Posts: 874member

    Fraunhofer noted that MP3 is still the world's most widely-used audio codec. This is presumably because of its legacy and widespread compatibility, since virtually every device designed to play digital music uses MP3 as a foundation.

    Except Sony's stuff for far too long a time.
  • Reply 9 of 12
    zroger73zroger73 Posts: 706member
    zroger73 said:
    Awww.

    The first compressed audio file I ever played was called "techo.MP2" (not MP3) that I downloaded over dial-up on my Tandy 2500 SX/33 computer that had a 386SX processor, 4 MB of RAM, and a 107 MB Seagate hard drive with a 250 MB tape backup. The sound quality of that file was more like AM radio. The computer wasn't fast enough to decode an MP3 in real-time - I had to covert it to a .WAV first, but there was only enough space for a few of those on the hard drive!
    Anybody remember .MOD files?
    I've still got hundreds of them that I collected in the early-90s that I played using Otto Chrons' Dual Module Player on the above-mentioned Tandy 386. DMP was one of the few that was efficient enough to play some of the more complicated .MOD files on that computer.

    I still listen to them occasionally on my Macs using a little program called Vox. It's not visually entertaining like the old DOS-based module players, but it does a good job playing them and converting them to other formats.
  • Reply 10 of 12
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 6,508member
    zroger73 said:
    zroger73 said:
    Awww.

    The first compressed audio file I ever played was called "techo.MP2" (not MP3) that I downloaded over dial-up on my Tandy 2500 SX/33 computer that had a 386SX processor, 4 MB of RAM, and a 107 MB Seagate hard drive with a 250 MB tape backup. The sound quality of that file was more like AM radio. The computer wasn't fast enough to decode an MP3 in real-time - I had to covert it to a .WAV first, but there was only enough space for a few of those on the hard drive!
    Anybody remember .MOD files?
    I've still got hundreds of them that I collected in the early-90s that I played using Otto Chrons' Dual Module Player on the above-mentioned Tandy 386. DMP was one of the few that was efficient enough to play some of the more complicated .MOD files on that computer.

    I still listen to them occasionally on my Macs using a little program called Vox. It's not visually entertaining like the old DOS-based module players, but it does a good job playing them and converting them to other formats.
    Rock. And we can't forget the demo scene, where aspiring demo crews created small animations of amazing graphics & music:

    https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2013/04/a-history-of-the-amiga-part-9-the-demo-scene/

    ...believe it or not but the scene still exists. 
    zroger73
  • Reply 11 of 12
    thisisasjthisisasj Posts: 62member
    linkman said:

    Fraunhofer noted that MP3 is still the world's most widely-used audio codec. This is presumably because of its legacy and widespread compatibility, since virtually every device designed to play digital music uses MP3 as a foundation.

    Except Sony's stuff for far too long a time.
    Sony's ATRAC sounded better overall but was stuck for far too long in the MiniDisc. MPEG-1 Layer 2 audio (MP2) sounded pretty good on VCD movies, but I rarely saw audio-only MP2 files (not saying they didn't exist).
  • Reply 12 of 12
    zroger73zroger73 Posts: 706member
    Rock. And we can't forget the demo scene, where aspiring demo crews created small animations of amazing graphics & music:

    https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2013/04/a-history-of-the-amiga-part-9-the-demo-scene/

    ...believe it or not but the scene still exists. 
    Oh, yes. I used to look forward to new demos to run on my little Tandy. I was amazed how efficient, assembly-language coding could render such complex shapes, colors, and multi-track audio in real time - even on that slow machine. I'll never forget the night I went to a co-worker's house to watch Second Reality by Future Crew on his "screaming" 486 DX2/66. He had a fancy video card with a composite video output connected to a massive, rear-projection TV while audio was routed through an amplifier and large speakers. To this day, I still remember the way my spine tingled after he dimmed the lights and fired up that demo.
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