Apple may be poised to kill off the 3.5mm headphone jack

“Just days after it bought Beats, the headphone firm founded by Dr Dre and Jimmy Iovine, Apple has revealed plans to abandon the headphone socket and make consumers buy headphones with a new connector,” Mark Prigg reports for The Daily Mail. “Apple’s plans allow headphone makers to use the Lightning socket normally used for charging and adding accessories. The firm is expected to use the Beats brand to launch the first headphones to use the connector.”

“According to 9to5mac, Apple revealed the new system earlier this week. ‘We’ve learned Apple has quietly introduced a new specification for manufacturers in its Made-For-iPhone/iPad/iPod (MFi) program that allows them to create headphones that connect to iOS devices using a Lightning connector instead of the usual 3.5mm headphone jack,'” Prigg reports. “The Lightning headphones will be capable of receiving lossless stereo 48 kHz digital audio output from Apple devices and sending mono 48 kHz digital audio input. The input means that the headphones will also support a microphone for audio input following Apple’s upcoming update.

“Headphones will also be able to draw power from the phone – useful for noise cancelling features, for instance,” Prigg reports. “A previous report claimed Apple was working on a version of its own in-ear EarPods using a Lightning connector and planned to enable higher-resolution audio playback in iOS 8.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take:

Death is very likely the single best invention of life. It is life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. – Steve Jobs

As we wrote yesterday:

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™.

Related articles:
Apple may ditch analog 3.5mm headphone jack for Lightning to make thinner devices – June 6, 2014
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

47 Comments

  1. If true, this would be a really, really bad move on Apple’s part—making the earbuds and headphones used by millions of iPhone users instantly obsolete. It is very hard to believe that Apple would be so stupid, but what do I know?

      1. Look, I don’t want an adaptor. It seems the 3.5mm connector is not broken… Why fix it? If it stands 1000 years, it does not mean it’s a bad thing. The real problem here… Lighting connectors are not open. So everyone has to license it. That means headphones cost more, instantly, with that connector, and the quality doesn’t go up.

        Second, I don’t want to have to buy dedicated headphones just for my iPhone or any iDevice… I can see having to carry multiple headphones in this situation, depending on what’s going on around me.

        If I spend a lot of money on a good pair of headphones, so I can listen to them on my iPhone, I would want to use them elsewhere… And elsewhere is going to have 3.5mm jacks.

        Currently, you can practically get headphones for free…. Or as part of some function, like air travel, museum visits, convention giveaways.

        I have more 3.5mm headphones I know what to do with.

        I don’t mind the change, if they can show a good valid reason why, and they have a solution for multi-tasking any new headphones I need to buy. Single-task devices suck donkey balls.

        1. The 3.5 mm jack IS broken in that it is 3.5mm. This limits how thin the phone can be. The Lightning plug is MUCH thinner, and so can your phone be too if you don’t have to have the 3.5 mm socket built in. An adapter is fine. Meanwhile, the rest of us can move on into the next, much thinner, era…

          1. Anyone who regularly uses a (physical) 3.5mm Mini Jack knows that it crackles, oxidizes and gets loose consistently, creating a bad audio interference.

            Too many moving parts and it takes up precious room when miniaturization is key. Even In pro audio studio environments, multi pin connectors are preferred to get rid of any 1/4 and mini jacks.

          2. 3.5mm cable is also analog, losing sound quality throughout the length of the cable. A lightning cable would be be fully digital and capable of much better sound quality than any analog connection.

        2. Ho along do you really expect your old headphones to last. Move on…

          People moaned and bitched about the new connector and now no one would go back. The old connector looks just silly.

          The really point is “if and how” will Apple help the users cushion the change (for those with none headphone devices using the socket and an adapter will help with that). Maybe this years iPhone will support both and next generation will drop the socket all together.

          Apple continues to create the path that others walk.

  2. The 1/4″ audio jack spec goes back to the 19th century, when it was developed for telephone switchboards. The 3.5mm version was created for transistor radios when they became popular in the 1950s. That’s a spec over 60 years old. It’s had a good run. As MDN says, Bring It On. If they can demonstrate an improvement in audio reception (and Mic input), then people will flock to it. Will be interesting to see what they come up with. The audio jack will still be around, and some manufacturers will make adapters for it, if you still want it.

  3. I don’t believe there is a reason to worry about Apple killing it off in one fell swoop. Existing phones could likely be retrofitted with a software “switch” if the hardware is already capable. The two can operate side by side for quite some time and I anticipate they will.
    Apple has a history of being on the bleeding edge while “helping” customers make the transition new and better tech. I don’t see this transition being any different and I whole-heartedly welcome it.

  4. Manufacturers can do a lot over the Lightning port..

    Get power for noise cancellation or sensors without adding extra batteries, better/more microphones for improved voice recognition, even supply power to the iPhone …

  5. What I really cannot understand is Ive’s obsession with making things thinner. Up to a point maybe, but I think that point’s long been reached.

    Personally I’d settle for the same thickness but longer battery life.

  6. As any Brit will tell you the Daily Mail will happily invent a bunch of outright lies in order to fill column inches. Don’t click on the link. They will have absolutely no evidence no real source for this story, and have just made it up.

    1. I agree and doubt Apple will kill it so soon. We’ll see Lightning in use for noise cancellation headphones for example, but the standard jack will remain for a while. Sounds like the Daily Mail is just fuelling the speculation started by Gordon Kelly, who’s always been wrong about Apple.

      After all Apple, at the time of the first iPhone, was one of the few that shipped a phone with the standard jack. Nokia, Blackberry, Ericsson, et all were selling proprietary headphones.

  7. Even if this is probably a fake story, I’m all for it. The connector we’ve been using for decades is way outdated. Time for a new better super thinner way.

  8. I think it is great for providing ability for higher caliber headsets, however, I often keep me iPhone plugged in charging while I listen to stuff. “Y” adaptor perhaps. The benefits will need to go beyond just being thinner to make it worthwhile for me. Need to see some use scenarios before I get too excited about this.

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