The iPhone has been the forefront of many technological innovations, although some of which were closer to popularisations than actual inventions. Then again nothing is truly invented until Apple does it right? Now it seems that Apple is “reinventing” the smartphone by removing the headphone jack.
Whether they actually choose to label it as such remains to be seen, but this bold design choice by the Cupertino company doesn’t seem to be going down well with at least 200,000 of their loyal fanbase. Well, to pacify the angry mob, Apple’s got the AirPods for you — at least we think that’s what they’re going to be called.
Based on 9to5Mac’s article, the AirPods looks to be exactly what the name suggests — “air” versions of Apple’s EarPods — completely wireless earbud headphones. Likely bearing a physical resemblance to the Motorola Hint, these new headphones are co-developed with Beats Electronics (which Apple acquired awhile back) and are designed to be compatible with the new iPhone 7 that is rumoured to be ditching the 3.5mm jack altogether.
That’s not to say the EarPods will just die off, no, the wired EarPods are expected to be connected via the Lightning connector, a feature that has been included in iOS since 2014. The AirPods on the other hand, are expected to be sold separately as a premium upgrade to the wired in-ear headphones.
9to5Mac also suspects that these earbud headphones will feature a noise-cancelling microphone system for phone calls and communication with Siri even without Apple’s in-line microphone and remote. It would make sense, after all, they’re supposed to be built for a phone so it wouldn’t make much sense if you couldn’t make calls on them.
These AirPods are suspected to come with a carrying case that will charge your wireless headphones when you’re not using them. Without which 9to5Mac estimates the headphones’ battery life at just under 4 hours on a single charge. These AirPods could also be port-less requiring you to charge them in that case.
Ditching the 3.5mm jack is nothing new in the mobile phone industry, even Oppo has done it with their uber-thin R5. While Apple’s decision could be driven by the fact that they want to make the iPhone 7 thinner, it could also be because — with all these waterproof iPhone rumours floating about — having a 3.5mm jack would mean another headache when trying to make the device waterproof.
When the original iPhone came out right until the iPhone 4s, the headphone jack was located at the top of the device. Since the iPhone 5’s inception, however, the 3.5mm jack has transferred to the bottom, a trend that has carried on even to the iPhone 6s of today.
Apple isn’t a stranger to changing things up with their line of products; removing the optical drives from most of their computer devices was one move, changing the headphone jack placements is another. When they made the first move on the iPhone 5, it was because it apparently made more sense to have all your cables sticking out on one end of the device. People were also more inclined to placing their devices head first into their pockets — something I agree with.
With their upcoming iPhone 7, Apple is looking to mix things up even more — design wise — with a waterproof body made out of a “new material” and the removal of the 3.5mm headphone jack, opting instead to stick with either a Lightning port or a wireless Bluetooth solution. The thing is, wireless devices run on battery, and if you’re already charging your smartphone, smartwatch, laptop, tablet and over-ear headphones, do you really want to charge your earbuds too?
The worst part? Having to charge your earbuds are just the tip of the iceberg. At first, Apple locks you within their app ecosystem. Then they don’t allow you to use third-party ports and connectors. Now, they don’t even want you to use third-party headphones, forcing you to stick with their proprietary ones. What about those of us who have bought a solid set of headphones with a 3.5mm jack? Are we forced to use an adapter?
Apple has always made some beautiful devices, with gorgeous fit and finishes, but ever since they launched their rendition of a battery case, we’re a little worried about the new iPhone. Maybe the Smart Battery Case was a dud, the ugly apple pie you hide from your guests when they come over for dinner. A lazy oversight. For Apple’s sake, we sure hope so.