Tag Archives for " iPhone "

The iPhone Headphone Jack Sails Into The Sunset, And We Should All Be Happy

headphone jack plugAs usual, rumors abound about Apple’s upcoming iPhone 7 release, but what seems to be getting the most attention is a piece of ancient tech history that the company appears to be leaving behind – the standard 3.5 millimeter headphone jack. While there’s a lot of weeping and gnashing of teeth in the media over this issue, I say, good riddance to this vile piece of primitive technology, and thank you Apple, for being rid of it.

Apple, of course, has a history for leaving pieces of tech behind before the competition, and we’re all better because of it. Remember the Sony floppy disc? How about the CD/DVD drive? How about VGA ports (among many other communication ports that no longer appear on Apple gear)? Everyone complained about these being left off the then latest unit, only to forget they even existed about a half-second after they got used to whatever new alternative was introduced. So it will be with headphone jack on the iPhone as well.

Yet I can hear your screams already. “What will I do with my expensive headphones/earbuds that have the standard connector?” Just like in all connector transitions before, there will be 3.5mm to Lightning port adapters that will nicely take care of that. You think Apple didn’t consider this, especially when it owns a headphone company?

The truth of the matter is that the headphone jack has long been the weak link of the chain in what was otherwise a beautifully designed piece of technology. It doesn’t take much to break it, and even if it’s not broken, a little dirt can make it unusable as well. It’s a wonder such a fragile piece of mechanics works as well as it does in the first place anyway. Time for something new.

There’s actually a lot to like about Apple’s headphone transition to the digital Lightning connector. First is the fact that it promises to be more robust since there are fewer moving mechanical parts involved. Second is that it will now allow an almost end to end digital signal to be available, moving the digital to analog convertor into the headphones, which has the benefits of a potentially better convertor, and eliminating any cable loss or interference in the analog domain. Seems like a win to me.

Sure, this means that soon we’ll be buying new headphones with either Bluetooth or built-in digital to analog convertors to accommodate our new phones, but is that such a bad thing if the quality is better? Basic headphone design hasn’t changed all that much over the years (although that’s changing), and this might give it the kick in the pants to do so in a bigger way. [Read more on Forbes]

July 5, 2016

The Apple I/O Death Chart

old iMac portsMany of us rely on Apple computers as our workstations, which means that we have to upgrade every few years to keep up with the technology and horsepower available (same on the PC side actually). Apple has always led the way with new technology, but it’s also in the forefront of booting old tech to the curb before the rest of the industry as well. Here’s a great chart courtesy of The Verge that illustrates this perfectly. The Apple I/O Death Chart shows an impressive array of ports that have fallen by the wayside.

apple-death-chart

As you can see, the floppy disc drive, VGA port, CD/DVD drive and SCSI were just some of the ports that Apple killed off before anyone else. Now it’s been rumored that Apple will soon do away with the 1/8th inch headphone jack in favor of using the Lightning port on the upcoming iPhone 7. Of course, the USB-C port on the latest Macbook laptops have replaced the power, Display Port, Firewire and HDMI jacks on previous models.

While this is supposed to make it more convenient for most users, pro users suffer as we have lots of peripherals and interfaces using the old technology that a new computer might not support. That means it’s off to buying either a host of unexpected new gear with compatible ports or some expensive adapters.

That said, I don’t know anyone who’d trade in their Thunderbolt interface for SCSI, or HDMI for VGA, or go back to floppy or Jazz drives for storage.

Thunderbolt may be an exception. It’s fast and in theory more practical to implement, but the cables are expensive (mostly because there’s intelligence built in) and you never seem to have enough ports.

So check out the Apple I/O Death Chart with a nostalgic eye and know that we’re part of an industry where things constantly change, evolve, morph, transform and hopefully, improve. One last thing to keep in mind, Apple’s I/O standards last about 15 years, so the 1/8th inch headphone jack is way beyond it’s lifespan.