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Nick Flowers

Apple and 3.5mm jacks

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Interesting story. It'd be terrible if true. One of my first mobile phones was a Sony Ericsson "Walkman" phone. Even that had to have an adaptor to plug headphones into it. I always hated that. I don't hink it's about advancement in technology, it is about making money.

At the end of the article Dediu says: "it's clear we're not going to stick around with something analogue for long,".

That's bullshit, just like those "digital" speakers. In the end, it's going to have to be analogue, otherwise we wouldn't be able to listen to it

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Yes, a very typical Apple move.  There have been rumors about this for some time--I thought they might try this sooner.  No, they don't care if they inconvenience you.   An adapter to 3.5mm would have to have active electronics in it, no?

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Jay Rose   

OTOH, the minijacks in Apple desktops (and most laptops) provide both conventional analog and s/pdif optical at standard rates/depths without any additional electronics. So that's a nice move, particularly for those of us who like to listen without motherboard noise.

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With the amount of loose/damaged 3.5mm jacks I've experienced, I'm not opposed to something better, and it takes a company like apple to make that happen.  I'd like to see the lightning connector (and microUSB) replaced with something closer to a smaller magsafe connector like on mac laptops.

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I'm not sure about the lightning connector being an advancement over 3.5mm in terms of size. I could however imagine a sort of magnetic connector that eliminates the need for a jack (where dust and dirt like to settle down).

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I don't care what they do (to serve their various marketing schemes) but I'd like them to leave a way for people to use the billions of devices already in existence with stereo mini plugs on them, right?  They're smart folks, they could do this if they wanted to.

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dfisk   

The female stereo mini jack takes up the most space out of anything "plug" inside the iPhone. They can remove it, and make the screen bigger without making the physical phone bigger. Audio I/O goes through the Lightning connector. On one hand, I don't care. On the other hand, now I need to get an adapter. 
 

People got all up in arms when they went from the 30 pin connector to the lightning connector on the iPhone5. I thought it was a welcome change. I also welcome this change. I've never been a fan of the stereo mini connector for as long as I've had headphones. They break easily and the cable going into them can get messed up easily. Of course, I say this, and I've never walked around with anything plugged into the lightning port on my phone that is then tethered to my head...but I don't use my iPhone to play music. That's what my iPod shuffle is for. 

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How many people use their good headphones to listen to music on the phone anyway?

I believe that when they actually remove the 3.5mm jack, they will provide a solution - adapter? Maybe. Or perhaps the new phones will include bluetooth buds.

I also bet others (Apogee, B&O? ) will likely come out with better sounding solutions.

In the long run, the lightning connector will likely disappear as well. Wireless audio, charging and data transfer. Why not?

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from: http://appleinsider.com/articles/16/03/01/apple-patents-magnetically-detachable-wireless-earbuds-for-iphone

By Mikey Campbell

Apple patents magnetically detachable wireless earbuds for iPhone

Amid rumors claiming Apple's next iPhone heralds the inexorable demise of the 3.5mm headphone jack, the company on Tuesday was granted a patent for a hybrid headphone design capable of both corded and wireless operation.  
 

16056-12639-160301-Wireless-l.jpg
 

Source: USPTO



As awarded by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Apple's U.S. Patent No. 9,277,309 for a "Detachable wireless listening device" details a headphone that accepts audio signals via a traditional cord in one mode, and Bluetooth or other wireless protocol in another.

The patent shares design similarities with a pair of regular earbuds. For example, both appear to sport a main audio cord branching off into two leads — one each for right and left earbuds. In practice, however, the invention relies on two separate cables; one connecting the stereo headphones together to form a listening subsystem, and another tethering that subsystem to a host device. 

Crucial to Apple's invention is a magnetic attachment mechanism that connects the listening device (earbuds and accompanying cable) to the host cord for battery recharging and wired audio signal transmission. When the earbud-side cord becomes detached, the system can be programmed to detect the state change, automatically pause the charging process and activate wireless communications. The ability to free one's headphones from a bulky host device provides a host of benefits, not the least of which being freedom to move without fear of getting wrapped up in wires. 
 

16056-12640-160301-Wireless-2-l.jpg



Apple's hybrid earbud concept came to light as a patent application in 2012, shortly after the company launched its redesigned EarPods headphones with iPhone 5. The intervening years have seen three iPhone iterations with no colorable headphone hardware modifications. 

A closer look at the patent as granted reveals only minor changes from the 2012 application, the most prominent being mention of a magnetic attachment system in the patent's claim construction. Previously, the filing only alluded to a vague attachment mechanism. An easy-to-use docking/charging interface is key in creating a pair of functional wireless headphones, and a design riff on the familiar wired EarPods supplied with all iPhones isn't a bad way to start.  

Last November, rumors surfaced claiming Apple plans to remove the 3.5mm headphone jack from its next-generation iPhone design in favor of an all wireless or Lightning solution. While still an industry standard, the headphone jack is an aging relic of the analog era that stands in the way of thinner, more flexible iPhone designs.

It is possible that technology referenced in today's patent grant will make its way into a next-gen Apple headphone model, a development that at least seems feasible in light of Lightning's introduction and subsequent platform buildout. The foundation for Lightning-enabled audio equipment was laid in 2014 when Apple announced the Lightning headphone module, a piece of hardware that offers third-party manufacturers access to deeper system controls, direct analog audio out and enough juice to power attached accessories. Apple itself debuted Lightning-compatible headphones, albeit through the Beats by Dre brand. 

As for the empty space left by a removal of iPhone's 3.5mm jack, the most recent rumblings say Apple could replace the audio module with a second speaker for stereo sound, though a lack of evidence precludes objective speculation. All will be revealed when the next flagship iPhone is announced, an event likely to take place this fall. 

Apple's hybrid headphone patent was first filed for in March 2011 and credits Jorge S. Fino as its inventor.

 

(29) Comments

 

 

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JonG   

I think the "everything wireless" idea is a poor one. Yes it's convenient for many. But needing to have service or be connected to wifi to be able to do anything is a bit of a pain. 

I don't know about your experience, but several years ago I used to get great reception with my cell carrier everywhere I went. These days it seems like I always have bad reception. Same carrier, I'm guessing just more users which means less available frequencies for everyone?

I recently had to reinstall my old macbook due to a hard drive change. That would have been a challange if I had no optical drive because it, being an older model, can only use an older OS, and therefore an older version of Pro-Tools. I saved all my optical disks so complete restoration was possible, and thanks to the new SSD drive I installed, it runs better than ever. And I'm talking about an 11 year old macbook! 

Point is, without physical ports, this couldn't be possible. I guess no one will want to hold onto their phone for 11 years, but my point remains. 

I don't use my phone for listening to music, but not having a 3.5" audio port would probably bumm me out in the event that I needed to connect my phone to something for audio purposes that didn't have bluetooth on it (like my 788T for example)...

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I'm not psyched about this rumor. I use a LifeProof case, which definitely muffles the mic and speaker. When I'm really having a phone conversation, I use a set of phone headphones. Right now those are pretty cheap to keep a few sets around. Lightning ones won't be. Also, LifeProof makes a screw in headphone adapter, so the phone is still waterproof while listening to music.

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Flipstar   
2 hours ago, johnpaul215 said:

I'm not psyched about this rumor. I use a LifeProof case, which definitely muffles the mic and speaker. When I'm really having a phone conversation, I use a set of phone headphones. Right now those are pretty cheap to keep a few sets around. Lightning ones won't be. Also, LifeProof makes a screw in headphone adapter, so the phone is still waterproof while listening to music.

I don't think there will be much of an issue as they are more than likely going to be including a lighting to 3.5mm adapter.

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That's an issue if the phone isn't waterproof.
I use the screw in waterproof connector on my LifeProof case. The phone remains sealed.
The one theory I heard is that the jack takes up enough internal space that they can't tuck it under the screen, and they want to remove the "chin" bezel on the bottom..... pushing the screen towards the edges. Supposedly we will eventually see a removal of the dedicated mechanical home button. There's a rumor that the iPhone 7 will have a home button that doesn't actually move, like the watch face, but will be a circle. That may become a "virtual" home button in the future.
We'll see, but I like the analog minijack for compatibility uses. A lightning dongle is just something else to loose, and probably not super cheap since it has to convert digital audio to analog. Even if lightning headphones could have some sort of smarts in them, since they use a data connection. Maybe noise cancelling (using the iPhone's processor to do the work), maybe a better mic so Siri can understand you better.

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well its official.. they took it away. I don't like the adaptor solution. what if you need to charge your phone and play music at the same time? And what if you don't carry the adaptor all of the time? I think im going to try android for my next phone. 

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Watching the Apple Event, I think they made a pretty good case for the removal of the headphone jack. Below you will see one person's analysis and some quotes from Apple regarding this change:

When the headphone jack was removed, Apple realized it was easier to install the new Taptic Engine for the pressure-sensitive Home button, implement a bigger battery, and reach an IP7 water resistance rating, so the elimination of the headphone jack became essential for all of the other features in the iPhone 7. 

Apple executives also believe the headphone jack is outdated technology that needed to go to make room for new advancements. According to Dan Riccio, it was holding Apple back "from a number of things" the company wanted to add to the iPhone, taking up space that could be used for camera improvements, battery, and processors.

"The audio connector is more than 100 years old," Joswiak says. "It had its last big innovation about 50 years ago. You know what that was? They made it smaller. It hasn't been touched since then. It's a dinosaur. It's time to move on." [...] 

For Dan Riccio, Apple's senior vice president of hardware engineering, the iPhone's 3.5-millimeter audio jack has felt something like the last months of an ill-fated if amicable relationship: familiar and comfortable, but ultimately an impediment to a better life ahead. "We've got this 50-year-old connector -- just a hole filled with air -- and it's just sitting there taking up space, really valuable space," he says.

According to Apple's Phil Schiller, there's no ulterior motive behind the move away from the 3.5mm headphone jack. "We are removing the audio jack because we have developed a better way to deliver audio. It has nothing to do with content management or DRM -- that's pure, paranoid conspiracy theory," he said. 

To ease the transition away from the 3.5mm headphone jack, Apple is including a 3.5mm to Lightning adapter with every iPhone 7 and it is also offering EarPods with a Lightning connector. Apple's new AirPods, which are fully wireless and are priced at $159, will also make it easier for customers to adapt to a device without a jack. 

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22 minutes ago, Philip Perkins said:

They don't care if you don't like it.  They are about selling Beats etc wireless headphones, which this will do. 

And selling fragile adapters that fail, and/or in the process, damage the Lightning connector.. i.e.: parts & service charges.

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Sorry Jeff--I work for Apple at Apple frequently and talked to some folks off the record.  Those statements are the new kool-aid.  Headphone stuff hits me where I live--I use headphones on a wide variety of devices every day.  I am not happy about the Apple stuff having a diff connector than my audio gear, and that adapter is a highly proprietary device, hard to make.  I guess the computers and iPads will be next re no-mini connector--no one can tell me that won't be a deal for people in our biz.  I hope the Chinese knock-off makers take up the challenge and flood the market with cheap adapters, but it's still a cheap, fragile plastic adapter, a hassle.  I don't care that the phone is thinner and has haptic coolness or whatever it is.  This is about selling headphones.

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Hey, Philip, you're probably old enough to remember when SONY came out with their Walkman and had to INVENT a new connector to provide stereo from the mini-jack they chose to install --- prior to the Walkman, there was no such thing as a stereo mini-plug. I remember having to make my own adapters by purchasing the SONY headsets (no one else was even making them) and cutting the cable just so I could get the connector. Later, of course, other manufacturers started producing this proprietary connector and lightweight headphones for this new portable player. You have to remember as well that everyone predicted that the SONY Walkman would fail --- who wants to carry around a portable cassette player and listen on headphones. Apple has been accused many times over the years for dropping support for legacy connection protocols and connectors and it has almost always worked out for the better for all of us. Had Apple not dropped ALL legacy support for printer connections when the original iMac came out (providing instead only a USB port for which there was only ONE printer available that could be used with the iMac) we might still be dealing with serial and parallel printer connections and connectors. Lastly, providing an adapter to connect standard and legacy headphones to these portable devices should make it a non-issue. Time will tell whether this is a good decision or not, and in the meantime, use the adapter.

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At least some of those quotes appear to come from an article by John Paczkowski who tends to go easy on Apple. Probably a requirement to maintain access, and he's not a total fanboy like John Gruber, but he does seem to at least be willing to share the kool-aid. The quotes come partway down in this long article by Paczkowski (which I admittedly only skimmed):

-----

Inside iPhone 7: Why Apple Killed The Headphone Jack

The standard audio jack that connects your headphones to just about everything has been around for nearly 150 years. Here’s why Apple thought it was time for a change.

https://www.buzzfeed.com/johnpaczkowski/inside-iphone-7-why-apple-killed-the-headphone-jack

-----

And it looks like Apple's not using bluetooth...or at least not standard bluetooth. Selling those cool-but-expensive AirPods (and the replacements when one goes AWOL) at $159/pair and the other Apple/Beats wireless headphones is probably a compelling business. Will Apple charge a licensing fee if they even decide to allow third parties make wireless headphones that work with the iPhone 7? And I haven't really been paying attention; are there any third-party wired Lightning-connector earbuds or headphones, or just Apple's $29 EarPods with Lightning Connector?  

 

And "Courage"? Ah well.

 

Screen Shot 2016-09-07 at 8.16.44 PM.png

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5 hours ago, Jeff Wexler said:

When the headphone jack was removed, Apple realized it was easier to install the new Taptic Engine for the pressure-sensitive Home button, implement a bigger battery, and reach an IP7 water resistance rating, so the elimination of the headphone jack became essential for all of the other features in the iPhone 7. 

There are plenty of android phones on the market that have a headphone jack and achieve all the "features" of the iPhone. 

I feel the main reason they took it away is because apple cares more about design than functionality.. the same story goes with the decision to remove all ports from their new MacBooks. They are obsessed with making things as simple and as minimalist as possible (which is not always a bad thing) 

It is true that they need to keep pushing technology forward. It is also true that I bitched when they removed the CD drives from their computers and now I am thankful that they did.

But personally it hurts to see this go. I use my phone to listen to music all the time. Spotify has changed my life, and I am always playing tunes on my phone.. its kind of essential and a deal breaker if you ask me. Just like it was a deal breaker to see usb and HDMI ports go away in their new MacBooks. 

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Answering the question whether there are any Lightning equipped headphones available other than Apple's offering, the answer is yes. Also, to clarify some of the good reasons for going with a Lightning connection, one analyst has pointed out:

"Lightning headphones are capable of receiving lossless stereo 48kHz digital audio output from Apple devices and sending mono 48kHz digital audio input. They can also draw power from an Apple device (even if the device is asleep).

Also, Apple's Lightning port can support headphones with integrated digital-to-analogue converters and amplifiers, so audio traveling through the Lightning port will pass into the headphones digitally, thus avoiding typical analogue signal interferences you get with other headphones."

I easily found about 11 different makes of headphones, several with their own high quality DACs. 

Again, we'll wait and see if this is a good change that moves us forward or just another profit grabbing arrogant act from the company some people love to hate.

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