With the MP3 format well and truly dead, what’s the way ahead?
The end of an era
By Chethan Rao |May 15, 2017, 03.52 PM IST
Most streaming services today utilize the highly efficient AAC file format for better music playback. This essentially means that not a lot of people are reliant on the MP3 format anymore. Keeping this in mind, The Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits, which created the format, has decided to stop licensing some MP3 related patents, essentially marking its demise.
The folks at the Fraunhofer Institute claim that AAC is the “de facto standard for music download and videos on mobile phones.” Keeping this in mind, the move is understandable. But what is the future of music streaming and playback? As most of us are aware, it’s AAC. Although it has been around for almost 20 years, it was always considered to be an alternative to MP3.
AAC or Advanced Audio Coding is the evolution of conventional audio file formats. It can achieve better sound quality compared to MP3 with almost the same bitrate, making it a highly popular option among streaming services today. Naturally, it was designed to be the successor of MP3. With the file format widely accepted by almost every mobile manufacturer today, the use of MP3 is pretty much redundant. Almost every major company has already embraced AAC, including YouTube.
Will MP3 die completely?
Of course not. Just because the Fraunhofer Institute will stop licensing MP3 related patents to companies, doesn’t mean MP3 will cease to exist right away. It will be a slow transition, especially in some parts of the world where MP3 files are still prominent. But the idea is to eventually phase out MP3 altogether in favor of AAC.
End of an era
MP3 files have been a large part of our lives. However, it wasn’t without its shortcomings. The file format was responsible for widespread digital piracy back in the 90s, which hit the music industry pretty badly. Interestingly, when the iPod was unveiled several years ago, Apple offered the AAC format as an option for all music. So it seems like manufacturers always had an inkling about where MP3 was headed.