An Anonymous Coward writes:
MP3 decoding was already free and got recently included in Fedora. But now, encoding is also free according to Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits IIS: "On April 23, 2017, Technicolor's mp3 licensing program for certain mp3 related patents and software of Technicolor and Fraunhofer IIS has been terminated." The Wikipedia MP3 article confirms that.
So, do you still use an MP3 library or have you switched to another format or means of listening to music such as (spying built-in) streaming services?
Why use Opus? It's designed to "efficiently code speech and general audio in a single format, while remaining low-latency enough for real-time interactive communication". Ie not optimized for audio quality so FLAC seems like a much better choice.
As for players. You know how popular a codec is once you try to implement it on a embedded microcontroller that lack any kind of multiprocess environment with MMU.
Opus replaces Vorbis. From Wikipedia: "Opus replaces both Vorbis and Speex for new applications, and several blind listening tests have ranked it higher-quality than any other standard audio format at any given bitrate until transparency is reached, including MP3, AAC, and HE-AAC." FLAC has very large file sizes. Thumb drives aren't that big yet (i.e., my music collection will not fit on a 64GB microSD card or USB drive in FLAC format; when 256GB microSD cards are the norm, this will be different.).
Why the hell would I care about embedded microcontrollers without MMUs or muliprocessing environments? This isn't the late 90s any more. Anything you're going to be listening to music on these days is going to be running Linux or similar, and will have a CPU more than capable of decoding any audio codec you like. (Android phone - Linux kernel; Car infotainment system - Linux)
Is software-decoded audio really a battery drain? Certainly true of video, but, audio?
Actually Opus is designed to scale.From low bitrate (speex can actually do ULTRA-LOW bitrate, like 8 kbps or something, Opus is limited to 16 or 32+ from a modified version of the speex codec) speech to mid to high bitrate lossy audio, Opus is actually designed to unify the audio technologies of all of those.
I haven't checked to see how it actually compares to speex/vorbis/etc, since nowadays I would just rip anything I need into flac and call it a day, but if you DO need lossy/low space media, it is another tool in your repetoire, assuming your devices support it.