Apple may ditch analog 3.5mm headphone jack for Lightning to make thinner devices

“A new program designed to allow third-party manufacturers to build headphones that would connect to an iOS device via the Lightning port, rather than the legacy 3.5-millimeter headphone jack, could mean that the latter’s days in Apple’s supply chain are numbered,” Sam Oliver reports for Apple Insider.

“Apple executives have never been afraid to pull the trigger on controversial choices to break from legacy technologies,” Oliver reports. “The original iMac kickstarted the adoption of USB at the expense of ADB and the floppy drive; the MacBook Air made it acceptable to drop optical drives and, later, spinning hard disks.”

“Following their announcement of a new headphone module for the all-digital Lightning connector at WWDC, Apple could now be on the verge of killing perhaps the most legacy of legacy technologies: the analog audio jack,” Oliver reports. “It could make headphones smarter. A bidirectional digital link with Apple’s uber-powerful handheld computers could make for better noise cancellation, improved audio quality, and even turn them into biometric sensors.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Bring. It. On.

Mac users are never wedded to old tech when there’s progress to be made.

Also, another good reason for the Beats buy. If Apple and Beats both change to Lightning headphones, the rest of the world will have to follow.

Of interest: Apple Inc.’s U.S. Patent No. 8,655,004: “Sports monitoring system for headphones, earbuds and/or headsets.”

Apple’s patent abstract: A monitoring system that can be placed proximate to the head or ear of a user is disclosed. According to one embodiment, the monitoring system can be used with headphones, earbuds or headsets. The monitoring system can, for example, be used to monitor user activity, such as during exercise or sporting activities. The positioning of the monitoring system can also facilitate sensing of other user characteristics (e.g., biometric data), such as temperature, perspiration and heart rate. The monitoring system can also be used to control a an electronic device. In one embodiment, the monitoring system facilitates user control of the electronic device using head gestures. More info here.

From your ear to your wrist in the blink of an eye™.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Dan K.” for the heads up.]

Related articles:
Apple introduces MFi specs for Lightning cable headphones, iOS software update to deliver support – June 5, 2014
Apple preps HD audio for iOS 8 plus new Apple In-Ear Headphones and lightning cable – May 13, 2014
Apple patents biometric sensor-packed health monitoring earphones with ‘head gesture’ control – February 18, 2014
Apple paves way for more affordable iOS accessories with lower MFi and Lightning licensing fees – February 7, 2014

65 Comments

  1. You can already get audio out through the lightning port, just like the 30 pin port.
    They make amps that work that way.
    This is a nonstory by someone who does not understand tech.

    1. Meh, so do Beats ‘phones.
      And before I get jumped on about Beats being crap, I agree, the sound quality out of the box is crap, ‘wooly’ and muffled sounding.
      However, and it’s a BIG however, anyone with an iDevice can quickly and easily clean the sound up, making a pair of Beats ‘phones sound as good as any other comparable make.
      (I’m talking about the better quality Solo HD ‘phones, BTW)
      All you need is one app, EQu.
      This app allows you to draw a curve across the frequency range, dropping and lifting frequencies to suit the device/your ears.
      I bought a pair of Solo HD’s from eBay, saving around £100, purely on the strength of this app, and it makes an enormous difference, lifting the bass downwards from 256Hz, then lifting the frequencies above 256 in a gentle curve, especially around1-2kHz, which is where vocals, particularly female vocals tend to reside, although they start around 750Hz.
      I’ve been listening to everything from the Carpenters through Emmylou a Harris, Patty Griffin, Dire Straits, Fairport Convention, Faith No More, Tool, Hybrid, The Knife, and a load more through my Beats, and I’m very, very impressed, they can sound as good as Shure SE215 or Ultimate Ears SuperFi earphones, they just need a bit of a tweak.
      And the Beats Solo 2 ‘phones appear to have been given exactly that.

  2. 3.5mm audio jack may be the standard for phones and portable audio devices but there is a standard 2.5mm audio jack same format just a little smaller that would work fine and allow thinner phones. I have a set with the smaller connector and they are fine.

  3. I’ve put up with Apple going from DB9 to ADB to USB for the mouse connector, SCSI to USB, Firewire & Thunderbolt for drives (Losing SCSI hurt!), losing the modem, losing the floppy, losing Ethernet, losing optical drives, but losing the 3.5mm audio plug? No way! I use the same headphones with my iPhone, stereo, shortwave radios and laptops and I’ll be seriously pissed if apple is so fixated on saving ½ CC of internal room in a device that’t already thin enough, to force people to start buying D/A converters just so they can use their expensive headphones with a skinny phone!

    Apple used a funky audio plug in the 7100. What happened when I upgraded that model? I was left with an expensive pair of Apple speakers that didn’t work with anything else.

    It’ll go over like a lead balloon. Don’t do it Apple!!

    1. Oh noes! Three different mouse interfaces in 30 years! A handful of different drive interfaces in the same amount of time? OMG! Losing SCSI hurt? Seriously? I said, “Good riddance” when SCSI finally started going away and I didn’t have to worry about device IDs, terminators, giant, heavy cables, and “SCSI voodoo” anymore.

      Technology doesn’t just change on Macs you know, right? If you had used a PC, you had to “put up” with going from VGA to DVI-I to DVI-D to DisplayPort and HDMI, from parallel and serial to USB, and with keyboard, you went from 5-pin DIN to PS/2, and finally USB.

      Then there’s AV… You’ve had to “put up” with going from RF to composite to component to DVI and finally to HDMI. I won’t even mention the different types of component, DVI, and HDMI.

      Technology marches on. Usually there’s a good time to move along with it. Otherwise, you can continue to use what you have. My Apple Cinema HD Display is now more than 10 years old, but I use it every day with 2012 MacBook Pro with an adapter.

      1. A Syquest drive, a Zip drive, a Magneto-Optical drive, tape drive and 2x CD-ROM. Granted, the CD-ROM was no great loss, but suddenly a couple thousand dollars of drives and media were useless.

        The others I just added for effect, but the loss of SCSI, not to mention the years of tinkering it took get everything working together, well, that was painful.

        Never had to deal w/PCs. Apple //c -> IIgs (all peripherals worked except the mouse) -> PowerMac 7100 (all peripherals worked except the monitor and 5.25 floppy) -> iMac, no peripherals worked).

        I realize technology marches on and became a staunch fan of Firewire and USB (especially 3.0) but switching from an analog 3.5mm audio plug will only make headphones more complex, more expensive and for what gain?

        1. Hard to say what gain because this is all hypothetical at this point.

          I’ve always been Apple, too – only using PCs when necessary, and very rarely owning them.

          Here’s my progression: Old man’s Apple II, II+, IIgs, original Mac and Mac Plus, to my own Mac SE/20 for college, then a IIsi, a IIci, an 8500, a 9500, a 9600, B/W G3, graphite G4, MDD G4, then switched to MacBooks after the intel transition, and haven’t had a desktop since (other than a Mac mini server for serving media and home automation).

          I guess I was never that annoyed by the transitions because I always upgraded peripherals and such before I upgraded my machine. So, when I dropped SCSI going to the blue/white G3, I already had Firewire drives with a FireWire card in the 9600. I had a USB PCI card and USB peripherals on the 9600 before I bought the USB-based blue/white machine, too.

          Or whatever – can’t keep track of all that crap anymore. Don’t care – I just use whatever tools I need to keep working and getting stuff done, and do it as intelligently as possible to save my wallet.

          1. That rotten IIgs lasted me 9 years. It had the annoying habit of getting faster every time I upgraded the accelerator card. The Syquest and Tape drives migrated to the Mac from there.

            If I ever kept track of the money I’ve spent on Apple and Apple compatible stuff I’d become a luddite.

  4. I use better headphones than Beats. I use the Parrot ZIK headphones. They’re bluetooth so headphone jack is rarely used on my iPhone anyway. If you’ve never tried Parrot ZIK, go to an apple store and try them.

  5. Thin is hard to hold. They should make an iPhone sized like the Motorola DynaTAC 8000X–it would take two and a half months to charge it initially, then you’d never need to charge it again till the battery wore out like three years later. And, we could plug whatever we wanted into it, and possibly store a snack inside.

  6. All Apple needs to do is build a 3.5-to-lightning adaptor with a pass-through lightning port, and include it “free” with every iOS device that needs it for say, the first year. I think that would mitigate a great deal of the negativity associated with the transition.

  7. I wouldn’t mind having far shorter 3.5mm connectors on headphones (50-60cm) then a lightning connector extension with a remote and whatever additional functions, then you could use any headphones you want and not have to worry about the shitty controls they have.

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