Apple’s intention to kill the 3.5mm headphone jack is brilliant

“If recent rumors are to be believed, Apple is about to do something that will make a lot of users very angry: remove the standard headphone jack from the iPhone 7,” Chris Smith writes for BGR.

“Many people argue they don’t need thinner phones and that Apple should not remove the headphone jack and replace regular 3.5mm headphones with wireless or Lightning-based ones,” Smith writes. “But a new theory that makes plenty of sense explains the real reason Apple is considering ditching the 3.5mm jack: Yes, it’s about size, but not the iPhone’s thickness.”

Smith writes, “San Francisco-based designer Matt Galligan said in a post on Medium that the real reason Apple is dumping the old standard port is that it needs more screen space in future-generation iPhones.”

Read more in the full article here.

“Everywhere I look articles are referencing Apple’s obsession with thinnness to be the likely culprit. I can’t blame them really, that would be a very easy first conclusion to jump to,” Matt Galligan writes for Medium. “But I’ll argue something completely different: Whether in this upcoming iteration or a subsequent one, the reason for Apple getting rid of the headphone jack has nothing to do with thinness at all.”

“Instead of jumping straight to the most obvious answer as to the jack’s demise, we could look just a little deeper…specifically into Apple’s patent history,” Galligan writes. “For that we can look at Patent Application #US 20150178542 A1 otherwise known as ‘Finger biometric sensor including drive signal level updating and related methods’ and its sibling #US 20150036065 A1 ‘Fingerprint Sensor in an Electronic Device.'”

“It’s all about internal space,” Galligan writes. “Touch ID will move to the screen itself and by eliminating the space necessary to house the headphone jack, the iPhone’s home button might look more like the pill-shaped buttons on the sides of the phone, or perhaps be eliminated altogether. After all, the iPhone 6s gave us 3D Touch multitasking, replacing multitasking’s reliance on the home button. The phones will become shorter, and likely easier to handle. One could even envision a day when the phone has no physical buttons, and it simply a display in a sealed enclosure.”

MacDailyNews Take: Another patent of interest is Apple’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™.

Plus, if you’d prefer no wires at all, you can do as we do and just go Bluetooth. We’ve been using wireless Jaybirds for some time now (currently the Jaybird X2 Sport Wireless Bluetooth Headphones). They’re easy to charge, light and comfortable, and work perfectly with our Apple Watches and iPhone 6s Plus units.

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take:

The iPhone is Steve Jobs’s attempt to crack a juicy new market for Apple Inc. But it’s also part of a decades-long campaign by Mr. Jobs against a much broader target: buttons.

The new Apple cellphone famously does without the keypads that adorn its rivals. Instead, it offers a touch-sensing screen for making phone calls and tapping out emails. The resulting look is one of the sparest ever for Apple, a company known for minimalist gadgets. While many technology companies load their products up with buttons, Mr. Jobs treats them as blemishes that add complexity to electronics products and hinder their clean aesthetics…

The spirit of simplicity extends even to Apple retail stores. The elevator in Apple’s popular Tokyo store, for instance, has no floor buttons. It stops on every floor of the four-story building. “I got used to this,” said Hiroshi Kawano, 40-year-old employee of a printing firm, on a recent visit to the store. “It’s simple, and I like it.”

At an Apple event two years ago, Mr. Jobs mocked the complexity of traditional remote controls for consumer-electronics products, including “media center” computers designed by Microsoft Corp. and its partners. He showed an image comparing media center remotes that had more than 40 buttons each next to a new Apple remote control for playing movies and music on Macs. The Apple remote had just six buttons.

“I don’t know that there’s ever been a slide that captures what Apple’s about as much as this one,” he said. Mr. Jobs was wearing the button-free long-sleeve black shirt that has been his trademark at public appearances.

When asked on stage at a recent conference sponsored by The Wall Street Journal whether there was any debate internally about the decision to include a virtual keyboard with the iPhone instead of a physical one, Mr. Jobs had a suitably minimalist answer.

“None,” he said.Nick Wingfield, The Wall Street Journal, July 25, 2007

SEE ALSO:
iPhone 7 said to be waterproof, replace 3.5mm headphone jack with Apple’s Lightning – January 8, 2016
The fastest Lightning cable is also one of the least expensive – January 8, 2016
Apple will drop headphone jack to make the iPhone 7 super slim, source confirms; wireless charging and waterproof, too – January 7, 2016
Petition demands Apple keep 3.5mm headphone jack in the ‘iPhone 7’ – January 7, 2016
More reports claim Apple has dumped the 3.5mm headphone jack on iPhone 7 – January 5, 2016
Why Apple may axe the 3.5mm headphone jack – June 20, 2014
Apple may be poised to kill off the 3.5mm headphone jack – June 7, 2014
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

37 Comments

  1. I miss having a few buttons. If I’m listening to a podcast in the gym or working outside, it’s all too easy for the touch screen to send false signals and shut off playback or even jump to another selection. In order to restart or fix it, I have to pull the phone out of my pocket and look at it to make the adjustment. With the old iPod, you could reach in the pocket and do the whole thing by feel.

    Too many buttons is certainly silly (look at an old Blackberry for that), but eliminating all buttons is more of a fixation than a customer-oriented improvement.

    1. Mikey, you need an Apple Watch. With Apple Watch at the gym, your phone stays locked and in your pocket the whole time, and you can’t accidentally hit the start/stop/skip buttons. You control all the functions you need from your wrist.

        1. That’s interesting, but I think you have to be really sweaty for your fingertips to be so saturated that the screen can’t recognize them anymore. I’ve never had that problem. (Can’t you just wipe your finger on your shorts?)

          But even if you’re at the point where a capacitive screen can’t recognize your fingertip, Siri on the Apple Watch understands “Play Music”, “Skip this song”, “Go back”, “Pause”, and various commands to play specific songs, artists, playlists or radio stations.

          1. I usually run without a shirt in the heat and sometimes my shorts are so wet, I can’t dry my hands. Not complaining, I love running in the heat. I can usually control the music with the headphone buttons or buttons on my jaybird. But I can’t unlock the screen to tell my running app to end. That gets frustrating.

    2. “The home button – might look more like a pill shape on the side of the phone?” — oh how stupid.

      First off, Touch iD is such a fabulous replacement to swipe the screen activation.

      Second off, Apple Pay being built into the same sensor for Touch ID verifying who is using the phone is total and absolute brilliance for Apple to have remained so strong at keeping a home button.

      Thirdly, 3D Touch is and does a fabulous way to access extra options tied to functions like cut, copy, paste, share, print etc. To add scanning sensors to the entire screen for thumb print verification onto of 3D touch is a horrible complicated – none intuitive move if Apple were to choose this.

      Fourth and last, inner space is as important as thinning the device down. Designers want both. Designer dream of basically having a transparent glass device… totally functionless desire with no purpose to have… but we see this idea and its pop-up holographic buttons in the tv show, “the expanse”. If any device can project buttons and choices for its user why bother have a screen at all. No one seems to have real vision anymore. Innovation seems to be at a snail pace. Sic-Fi has been caught up by todays technology. People are pulling at nonsense for what they see as futuristic and cool. Writers will write about anything for a click. Dogs and Cats will live together – elephants shall fly – and Apple will do as they please.

    1. If reports are true, Apple will likely release a companion Bluetooth adapter with headphone jack, just like they released an external hard drive when they removed them from laptops.

      1. Yes, Apple may release an over-priced adapter. Just another non-integrated doodad to lose. Of course, you could always buy an over-priced Apple-only set of headphones. Maybe users need to mail their old headphones to Apple c/o Tim Cook.

      2. I remember last year when I installed an aftermarket radio in my sisters older 2003 SUV. It had the 30 pin iPod/iPhone connector but she had an iPhone 5, so she had to spend an extra $30 on the adapter.

        Now she’s got a newer car with a direct AUX connection built in, and now she’s gonna have to buy yet another adapter to connect her iPhone to her stereo.

        Sure am glad I switched to Android, where they never have forced you to buy pointless adapters.

  2. For the life of me I can’t understand why do people think the next iPhone will ship without headphones??? Since the first iteration ten years ago, iPhone has ALWAYS shipped with headphones. Is it possible that I’m the only one who is convinced that there is no logic that suddenly, just because they changed the port, they will no longer give you a headset with your phone??

    1. You’re not the only one. I think it’s a given that Apple will include lightning earbuds with the next phone. If it doesn’t have a headphone jack, of course they will. They practically have to or their customers would scream bloody murder. It won’t cost them anything extra to make their earbuds have a lightning jack instead of 3.5mm. It’s not like they have to pay licensing royalties for lightning to themselves.

      1. I don’t use Apple’s earbuds. They don’t work for me, either it;s the shape of my ear or the build materials. They fall out and sound lite.

        However I do like Skull Candy. The difference, for some, they have too much base, but for me and how my ear is, it sounds normal.

        I guess I have dry ears. Nothing stays in.

    2. That is not the point. I have active noise cancelling Bose ear buds and I want to keep using them with *everything* I listen to. I don’t use Apple’s, though they are quite decent. We must have a *free* (meaning included) adapter or at least way to continue using our preferred audio equipment.

      1. That would be a first. Apple has removed a lot of “standard” things from their devices over the years and didn’t provide any adapters from r connecting legacy peripherals. My old SCSI scanner was $1,200 and I eventually had to sell it because there was no way to connect it to a G3 PowerMac with USB, other than buying a SCSI PCI card. Your Bose headphones are considerably cheaper, and you’ll likely be able to buy a $15 adapter if you really wanted to keep them to use with new iOS devices (and likely Macs too).

  3. This version of explanation is not good enough.

    I still do not think that the 3.5mm jack i in the way of any performance or physical specification. Also the location of the current power button has caused a few annoying instances.

    I can see a possibility that a 15mm x 3.5mm hole could be an issue if you combine thinness with a shorter narrower frame, with today’s iPhone design. However I think Apple is smart enough to not have to make that kind of compromise.

    If they do eliminate the 3.5mm (instead of being a simple rumor, but actual fact as part of a bigger plan) they better do exactly that, make the physical dimensions so small as to compromise the existence of the jack, in addition to some other items equally beloved, such as the home button, etc. Make this a compelling choice for us. But simply removing the jack for any other reason is stupid.

  4. Dear Apple: While redesigning things, PLEASE move the power button so that it is no longer opposite the camera shutter button. All too often power dumps-out right during a critical shot (squeezing shutter button causes gripping thumb to power-down).

  5. It’s pretty funny – all the whining over a rumor about an unreleased product. If it turns out to be true, so what? Anyone who has invested a $100-$300 for a set of headphones will be more willing to cough up another $10-$20 for an adapter to continue using them. (When I got my new TV there was no analog audio out, so I had to get a DAC box so I could connect it to my older receiver.)

    In the long run, switching to a lightning connector will enable headsets to be far more capable than they are now. Apple has been working for years on including many types of sensors and other tech into headsets. Lightning will allow far more types of data to pass back and forth.

    If it gets removed, there will be a better reason than just wanting to make a thinner phone.

  6. the primary reason has nothing to do with thin-ness, size, or whatever. The primary reason is digital vs. analog. The 1/8″ jack is the last analog port on the computer/ipod/phone/tablet. VGA was long ago replaced with HDMI/display port. 10 years ago everybody complained about that too; today nobody would go back to VGA.

    Here’s one of many advantage of digital audio out — if you want better quality audio, you need digital out. Lots of people complain about lack of higher quality audio like lossless, but that truth is that the low-quality digital to audio converter in the iPhone swamps any improvement in audio bitstream rates. Proof? Connect even a low-end external USB audio converter and compare the sound to that of the 1/8″ — it’s not subtle at all, it’s totally obvious to even a casual listener. By comparison, compare 256 ACC to uncompressed — even in a great listening environment (I run a recording studio), it’s a improvement but it’s subtle. Therefore, if you want high end uncompressed audio, then you need digital audio out. Then buy a high-end headphone with great converters. Yeah! 10 years from now, nobody will ever want analog audio out.

    1. While I agree that the reason is probably to finally get rid of the last analog port, this will also mean that a digital to analog converter will have to be built into the earphones (that is unless you know about some kind of neural interface that will pipe digital audio). Not sure how much of a power draw the lightning connector earphones will take at that point which may be important if the battery will also have to squeeze in a smaller body.

      1. The earphones needing a DAC is irrelevant since the iPhone uses one to send the audio through the analog port, so the power draw would be the same – it would just take place in the earphones and not the iPhone.

        But seeing where Apple has taken the Lightning port recently, I can see them producing wireless headsets (with built-in lithium battery) that can also be connected via a lightning cable for both charging and higher quality audio streaming.

        1. I see your point.. Based on that design though wouldn’t the DAC in the earphone have to pair with maybe a capacitor to handle the power rising and falling to create the audible sound? I can see the iPhone running cooler as a result but also the earphones possibly warming up where the DAC and capacitor would be located.

    2. Exactly right. And exactly why Apple needs to INCLUDE a simple adapter to convert to the mini jack the world uses for headphones. Just include it. Don’t FORCE loyal users to have to go out and spend more to avoid obsoleting everything they own.

      1. That is definitely the point. If you upgrade to a new iPhone you should not **necessarily** have to go out and buy new (and expensive) headphones, earbuds, adapters, and all that. Do you guys hate your current audio gear, just dying to throw it out? We just need that DAC to be moved into an external adapter. Very simple. An **included**, small external adapter.

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