R.I.P Apple

Well, the rumours were true: the iPhone 7 has been announced without a headphone jack. While nobody is truly surprised by this because, I wanted to believe it was only a rumour. Surely Apple wouldn’t kill off such a widely used feature?

I am all for pushing technology forward, but we aren’t talking about VCR and DVD here, we are talking about the classic 3.5mm stereo headphone jack which has no true replacement.

Apple has a pretty good record of ditching the right technology at the right time, like removing optical drives from their entire MacBook range. But in all honesty when Apple ditched the optical drive and ditched supporting Flash, those pieces of technology were already in decline.

I think Apple has really jumped the gun on ditching the headphone jack. I am not saying that the headphone jack will be around forever, but there isn’t really a reason to ditch it right now. It is more popular than ever.

Many cars manufactured in 2016 that support bluetooth audio, still have auxiliary headphone connectors. Third party payment services that have card readers like Square use the headphone jack still.

What makes this all even more surprising is during the announcement Phil Schiller said it “takes courage” to use the lightning jack for audio. He then went on to say that the original 3.5mm jack is 100 years old. Using this logic, are cars (except Tesla) outdated technology because we’re still reliant on fossil fuels and combustion engines?

It really is concerning the level of arrogance has reached. When announcing the removal of the headphone jack, Phil also claimed that only “some” people are still using wired headsets.

Has anyone at Apple ever experienced the pain of getting bluetooth headphones to work with a phone? The sync problems, disconnection issues and that is not even factoring in that the audio quality of bluetooth headphones is inherently low.

The problem with bluetooth (the current standard) is audio is digitally compressed and transferred across a frequency of 2.4ghz. This is a busy frequency that a lot of wireless devices already use in your home like wireless keyboards, mice and other bluetooth devices.

Heck even your microwave most likely produces microwaves on this frequency. These don’t have an effect really on audio quality, but are generally responsible for dropouts.

It really makes you wonder, was the headphone jack removed because Apple see’s it as this archaic technology or was it because the new waterproof capability of the phone meant they needed to remove it? There are plenty of Android devices including the S7/S7 Edge which have a headphone jack and are somewhat waterproof. There is definitely no technological limitation.

The iPhone will ship with lightning earphones, meaning that if you want to charge your phone and listen to music at the same time through wired headphones, you are fresh out of luck you’ll need to read some reviews of speakers instead. But don’t worry, Apple have announced you’ll be able to buy wireless headphones called Airpods.

The kicker is Airpods are $160 USD, so at the time of writing this $208 AUD for wireless headphones that you’ll easily lose, need to be recharged and if you’re a runner: when you sweat, they will fall out. Oh, and they won’t be shipped until after a month after the iPhone 7 releases.

Believe it or not the 3.5mm port is used for more than listening to music. There is an entire ecosystem of third-party devices that use the 3.5mm port from microphones through to barcode and credit card readers. The capabilities of this port are very understated.

Then there is Apple’s reluctance to support real standards, something they’ve always been known for. They are still pursuing their lightning port over USB-C which the rest of the industry is starting to converge on.

Will this affect sales of the iPhone 7? Probably not. Apple could remove the screen completely and people would still line up around the block for the iPhone.

One response to “R.I.P Apple”

  1. Bazyli says:

    Note that there is a Bluetooth Audio standard for lossless transmission, which means the quality is not degraded, as it’s compressed losslessly (like FLAC). It’s called: aptX Lossless.
    I’m using a Sony Bluetooth audio transmitter for my speaker system which supports that standard and it’s working brilliantly. Didn’t experience drop-outs or any other bad behavior with it, although I know that can happen with crappy bluetooth chips/drivers, especially on Windows.

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