Apple has always, and I mean ALWAYS, used its traditional 3.5 mm jack for all of its headphone variants. And Apple users are more than familiar with the company’s adherence to its traditional approach where certain elements of the design are not changed. However, Apple plans on breaking this tradition as the creative team is pondering over the possibility of replacing the 3.5 mm jack with its proprietary Lightning Port.
Now I know this is a cause of concern for existing users as new adapters would have to be acquired if this technology were to be released on a commercial level. But this is pretty much manageable as the benefits of this technology are greater than the cost value of the adapters. Moreover, this is a great way to integrate the newly acquired Beats Electronics (known for its high quality headphones) with the possibly slimmer iPhones that are expected to come out in the market.
What is the New Design All About?
Apparently, Apple has provided the blueprints for a new Lightning port based headphone on the MFi program. This program allows manufacturers to produce connectors for existing headphones and earphones. So you can expect the market to be flooded with special connecters soon enough so that users can have the option of using their existing headphones with the new port. Apart from delivering greater audio quality and making the headphone an integral accessory for the phone, the new port will also be beneficial from the design perspective as the 3.5 mm jack port was the biggest hurdle that the company was facing when trying to practically implement a slimmer design.
Why is it Important?
For a start, the lightening port would be able to convert analogue audio signals to digital audio signals. This conversion would be done at an enhanced lossless stereo output of 48 kHz. Moreover, the company has indicated in its specifications that the new headphones would be able to work cohesively with its companion iOS app. So now, the headphone would be able to perform more actions than simply skipping tracks and controlling the volume levels. It would be able to work with the radio and even initiate playback controls on the respective iOS for your iPhone. Who wouldn’t love such a dynamic accessory for their iPhones and possibly all devices in the near future?
And the best part about the lightning port is that the headphones would be able to tap into the battery reserve from the phone itself so there would be no need for external power sources such as batteries to be used for them. This is probably the biggest advantage for these headphones and is also a good way to cut down on additional costs.
Future of Headphone Jacks
The humble 3.5 mm audio headphone jack has been in existence for over 100 years and it’s interesting to note that it was used in the first telephone switchboards where the calls were established by the operator by simply switching the line to the correct channel with the use of jacks. The army personnel use this as the primary component in their communication modules. Its widespread usage and universal applicability have made it the industry standard for portable music. But as technology advances, there is bound to be changes that will make even the 3.5 jack seem inferior. Probably, this is the case with the new Lightning port technology that could gradually take over the 3.5 mm jack.
The most common concern is that with the introduction of the new port, Apple users could find themselves in a fix where their purchased headphones would become useless. However, the brilliant minds at the company have already foreseen this and as a precaution, they have already developed the plans for an adaptor that could be used with the current headphones for converting the 3.5mm jack into a lightning port interface.
Apple has been successful with their strategies in the past. But that was with Steve Jobs. Let’s see if they are able to create the same “Apple Magic” this time with the highly anticipated iPhone 6 and the new iOS version.
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