Apple working to solve the biggest problem with wireless headphones

“Apple has spent the last few years developing a custom Bluetooth radio chip for wireless earbuds, according to a source with knowledge of the project,” Aaron Tilley reports for Forbes. “It’s possible the Bluetooth device will launch in September with the first iPhone without a headphone jack (likely called iPhone 7). If Apple succeeds, the wireless earbuds will fix a problem that has plagued Bluetooth headphones: limited battery life. The source couldn’t confirm when the product will launch.”

“The low-power Bluetooth chip comes from technology developed by Passif Semiconductor, a startup Apple purchased in 2013,” Tilley reports. “But the project has hit performance snags.”

“Apple originally planned to launch the Bluetooth gadget in 2015, but Bluetooth performance issues stalled the release, the source told Forbes,” Tilley reports. “The expected iPhone 7 will likely not have a headphone jack, making the iPhone thinner (by one millimeter) as well as improve its water resistance. This would require headphones to connect wirelessly through Bluetooth or Apple’s proprietary Lighting port.”

“Apple’s biggest smartphone rival, Samsung, recently announced its own Bluetooth earbuds called the Gear IconX. Samsung claims only 90 minutes minutes of battery life while streaming music from a phone,” Tilley reports. “The earbuds can also do a lot more than just play music: it captures the user’s heart rate with an optical sensor and tracks steps with an accelerometer.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Wonder if Samsung’s Gear IconX earbuds infringe upon 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.

SEE ALSO:
Are these Apple’s iPhone 7 Lightning EarPods? – August 5, 2016
Apple’s next-gen iPhone will feature all-new non-mechanical Home button, no 3.5mm headphone jack – August 2, 2016
Apple acquires low-energy chip developer Passif Semiconductor – August 1, 2013

17 Comments

  1. I wish more than one person can listen to one device via Bluetooth. We I run with a partner, it would be great if we could hear the same music at the same time. Plus hear feedback about pace and distance from fitness apps.

      1. That’s effectively one receiver being connected to two transmitters, but they don’t work at the same time. I assume what tyleremke is asking for is two receivers connected to the one transmitter i.e. two sets of headphones connected to one player. Probably possible but would sap battery life and as much as anything would need careful thought as to how you would set it up.

  2. The biggest problem is batteries and charging. I’m already sick of managing the power on all my other devices. Invent perpetual energy or wireless charging that works in ranges as large as wifi or cellular towers.

  3. Had no idea a lot of Bluetooth headphones have low battery life.

    I have a cheap set of Phillips BT headphones that I only charge once a week. I use them a couple of hours every day.

  4. I would have said the biggest problem with Bluetooth headphones is the lag time when working with music creation, editing, or DJ apps. That lag makes wireless headphones useless for using GarageBand, Traktor DJ, iMaschine, and a multitude of other related apps where timing has to be precise between the display / touch and what you hear. To be fair, I’m not sure if this deficiency is Bluetooth or how apps interface with iOS’s audio subsystem. All I can say is that it doesn’t happen with wired audio output. Yes, it happens with BT v2,v3,v4, or v4.1 headphones from an iPad Air & iPhone 6s+. I haven’t tried any headphone that have BT 4.2.

    1. The issue is with someone thinking that apps where lag might be an issue can be done reliably over any sort of wireless digital technology. I can only imagine a DJ thinking they might be able to do such – not anyone serious about music creation and editing. I mean no offense to the DJs of the world; I just don’t see anyone in those other categories having real expectations of this being usable. I would love to be proven wrong someday soon, but I don’t expect it. Not soon. Not reliably.

      1. I agree with you – when you are doing serious music production you use wired headphones, studio monitors, or a sound system for live. However if you are inspired or have an epiphany while out and about and all you have is bluetooth headphones – FAIL. The happens to me all the time and I either carry only wired headphones or both bluetooth and wired. It would be nice to be wireless for those creative moments but the lag is so bad you can’t really use it.

  5. …The wireless earbuds will fix a problem that has plagued Bluetooth headphones: limited battery life

    …And crap bandwidth, resulting in crap audio reproduction. Bluetooth, despite its heritage, is only good for casual audio. Forget about hi fidelity. Hi quality wireless headphones ALL add additional bandwidth in order to extend that provided by lousy Bluetooth.

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