In a potentially controversial move, the company wants to get rid of the traditional 3.5 mm headphone jack that connects essentially all types of headphones to all types of smartphones and replace it with something better.
During a WWDC briefing session this week, Apple revealed its plans for a new standard that would use the company’s own Lightning Connector port to plug a set of headphones into a smartphone or tablet.
The logic behind the decision, outlined by Apple’s manager of platform accessories Robert Walsh, is to bring more functionality and performance to headphones. The Lightning Connector can be used to power as well as connect devices for example, so headphones could have controls, like volume or noise-cancellation features, but wouldn’t need their own batteries to power the features.
The same port would also allow analogue and digital playback and for an iPhone or iPad to communicate, via an app, with the headphones for even greater precision and control.
According to Apple Insider, which first reported on the WWDC session, if Apple were to remove the headphone jack on future iPhones it would free up space for other internal components, such as a bigger battery, something that will be needed if the next-generation iPhone is to have a bigger, higher resolution display.
While the plan may upset a lot of loyal Apple customers who have already invested substantially in premium headphones with a standard headphone jack, and of course a host of premium headphone makers, there is little doubt that one brand — Beats By Dr Dre — will soon have a set of cans with a Lightening Connector cable in the works.