Ap­ple pulling plug on head­phone jack

Winnipeg Free Press - Section E - - ARTS & LIFE - By Troy Wolver­ton

YOU may no­tice some­thing fa­mil­iar is miss­ing from the next iPhone: a stan­dard head­phone jack.

With the iPhone 7, due out next year, Ap­ple plans to re­move the port, ac­cord­ing to a re­port out of Ja­pan. In­stead of plug­ging head­phones into a ded­i­cated jack, users will con­nect them to the iPhone’s Light­ning data port. The new smart­phone will come with a pair of head­phones that can plug di­rectly into the port, but in or­der to plug in reg­u­lar head­phones, users will need a sep­a­rate adapter, ac­cord­ing to the re­port.

The head­phone jack is thicker than the Light­ning port, and the ac­tual con­nec­tor is al­most twice as long. By re­mov­ing the head­phone jack, Ap­ple could the­o­ret­i­cally make its de­vices thin­ner and al­lo­cate more space to a dis­play, bat­ter­ies or other elec­tron­ics. The move would also al­low mu­sic and sound to be trans­mit­ted dig­i­tally from the de­vice to the head­phones, po­ten­tially im­prov­ing fidelity.

The com­pany made a sim­i­lar move four years ago, when it re­placed the 30-pin data port it had used with iPods and the first iPhones with the smaller, thin­ner Light­ning con­nec­tor. And ear­lier this year, Ap­ple re­leased the new Macbook, which re­places stan­dard USB ports with a new, thin­ner, smaller USB-C port that dou­bles as the com­puter’s power con­nec­tor.

A move to use the Light­ning port for head­phones could cause sim­i­lar com­pli­ca­tions as that faced by Macbook own­ers. Elim­i­nat­ing the head­phone jack would make the new phone in­com­pat­i­ble with nearly all wired head­sets on the mar­ket. If own­ers wanted to use their old head­set, they’d need to pur­chase a sep­a­rate don­gle.

Mean­while, by com­bin­ing two or more func­tions — power and sound — into one port, the new de­sign would make it dif­fi­cult for users to con­nect the phone to two de­vices at the same time. iPhone users likely wouldn’t be able to charge their phones and use wired head­phones at the same time, un­less they pur­chased a sep­a­rate adapter.

Not that kind of com­pli­ca­tion would likely bother Ap­ple. The com­pany has a long history of em­brac­ing new con­nec­tion and in­put tech­nolo­gies and aban­don­ing older ones with­out ap­pear­ing to worry much about the con­se­quences to its user base. The com­pany was among the first to adopt USB, USB-C and Thun­der­bolt ports and among the first to ditch floppy and DVD drives and stan­dard USB ports.

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