According to 9to5Mac, Apple has introduced a new specification for manufacturers in its MFi (Made For iPhone/iPad/iPod) program which will allow them to produce headphones to connect to a Lightning connector rather than the typical 3.5mm headphone jack. It's still early in the creative process, so Apple has not turned on the audio input support for Lightning cables and iOS devices just yet. However, there will be a future software update that will turn the audio input support on for devices running iOS 7.1 or later.
The functionality that will come with Lightning headphones has the potential to make headphone jacks obsolete. While Apple hasn't plainly stated that it plans on getting rid of the headphone jack on future devices, that's the conclusion many outlets have come to, including Forbes. Utilizing the Lightning connector for your headphones will present the capability for app control, including the automatic launching of an app as soon as you plug the headphones in.
In their report, 9to5Mac writes, "Apple says the headphones will be able to draw power from an Apple device (even if the device is asleep), which for some products could eliminate cost associated with an internal battery. It could also work the other way around by providing power to an Apple device from an internal battery or external power source. That enables you to listen to music and also use a passthrough setup so you could charge the device simultaneously, much like you can with an audio dock that uses a Lightning connector. The headphones will also be capable of receiving firmware updates."
Apple's acquisition of Beats by Dre looks to be a big factor for the forthcoming adoption of Lightning headphones. A phasing out of headphone jacks will likely make a lot of people unhappy, as it will force consumers to use headphones solely constructed for iPhone/iPad/iPod use. However, plastering the Beats by Dre logo on Lightning headphones should help in spurring widespread adoption among Apple users.
In any case, no matter how much sense it makes, the removal of headphone jacks from Apple devices is pure conjecture at the moment. If headphone jacks are removed in the future, Apple will have to do it in a manner that won't completely anger its fans. In their article on this subject, Forbes presents a realistic timeline:
- Announce the technology with Beats and headphone partner
- Unveil clever third party app integration
- Make this integration inaccessible in any other way
- Make Lightning port to 3.5mm headphone jack adaptors expensive and bulky
- In a few years remove the 3.5mm headphone jack from Apple devices citing legacy, greater design flexibility and extra space for a bigger battery
With the growing popularity of wireless headphones, Lightning cable headphones might even become obsolete in the near future. If that's the case, this could be a great way for Apple to corner the market on wired headphones while they're still the industry standard.
This could impact all music lovers, as it could impede our ability to listen to music if we have an iPhone, iPad, or iPod. What are your thoughts on Apple's decision? Let us know in the comments below!
Cover photo credit: Inwallspeakers.com