Apple has announced that it is officially endorsing OpenAL – a cross-platform three-dimensional audio API – and has contributed modifications that result in dramatic performance enhancements for gaming audio on Mac OS X.

OpenAl – the Open Audio Library – allows a programmer to position audio sources in a three-dimensional space around a listener, producing reasonable fading and panning for each source so that the environment seems three-dimensional. The audio quality is suitable for professional projects such as games and multimedia applications, but was designed for gaming audio.

OpenAL recommends that users install Apple's latest CoreAudio SDK before compiling. Core Audio SDK v1.3.1 was recently updated and new features include additional Audio Unit APIs, playback and recording enhancements, and additional sample code.

OpenAL was introduced by the now-defunct Loki, the company that used to port games to Linux. It is cross platform and is supported by a growing number of hardware vendors and developers.