Apple has been known to introduce new products that ignore a piece of technology that has been standard for years, so when rumors started emerging that the company might get rid of the headphone jack in the iPhone 7, many weren't that surprised. Many, however, were outraged.
And that's fair enough. Music has become an integral part of how we interact with our smartphone. Let's make something very clear though - removing the headphone jack is not akin to removing the ability to listen to music on the iPhone. In fact, it could be quite the opposite. Here's why Apple should definitely get rid of the headphone jack on the iPhone 7.
If Apple were to remove the headphone jack, it could promote the listening of better quality audio. There would, of course, still be a number of ways users could listen to music on their iPhone. What some people don't know is that Apple has enabled headphone manufacturers to make headphones that connect to the phone through the Lightning port.
There's one thing about the Lightning port that gives it an advantage over a standard like the 3.5mm jack: power. Smartphones generally have their own headphone power amplifiers built into them - that's what boosts an audio sound so it's loud enough for people to hear. There's only one problem: they often aren't as good as they could be. Using the power from Lightning cables, headphone manufacturers could build headphone amplifiers right into the headphones themselves, boosting the quality of audio in a way that offers users a much better listening experience.
I know what you're thinking. "I don't care about the quality of audio! The iPhone audio quality is fine for me, and I don't need anything better." You might be right, too. Most people simply want to listen to their music in the easiest way possible, and any quality that's better than low is fine. Because of this, those Lightning headphones will probably be more useful for the audiophiles among us.
While Bluetooth headphones have been around for a while now, they've generally remained somewhat niche, especially when it comes to miniaturized Bluetooth headphones. It's important to make something clear: Apple is allowing the Lightning port to be used for headphones, but my bet is that the company as well as headphone companies will largely focus on Bluetooth audio listening in the future.
This will make things very interesting as far as the headphones on offer. Bluetooth headphones have yet to reach their full potential, both when it comes to audio quality and things like portability, but Apple forcing Bluetooth technology on users will likely cause headphone manufacturers to seriously work on their Bluetooth headphone offerings.
We'll start to see earbuds that simply don't have cables, headphones that can connect to devices at much greater distances, and headphones that you can also use with your Apple Watch.
Not only that, but let's not forget one thing: Apple owns one of the most popular headphone companies in the world, and we can be sure that Apple and Beats are already working on a slick new line of Bluetooth buds to release alongside the iPhone 7. That will, in turn, cause other manufacturers to work on slick new Bluetooth headphones of their own, simply to compete.
Thinner phones and bigger screens
Of course, there are a number of non-audio reasons that getting rid of the headphone jack is a good thing. Ever think the iPhone could get even thinner than it already is? Well, it can. One of the main features limiting just how thin the device can get is the headphone jack.
Another important thing to think about is the fact that removing the headphone jack will enable Apple to increase the screen size on a same-sized device. A screen takes a lot of space on a phone, and it's not two dimensional. If you take the end of your headphones and place it over the top of where the headphone jack is on your handset, you'll notice that the tip of it stops just short of where the screen begins. That's no accident. Getting rid of the headphone jack would allow for more real estate for the screen to move into.
The transition period
The removal of the headphone jack and the transition period immediately after that is going to be an adjustment for everyone, but not impossible. Apple will be happy to sell you an adapter that allows you to use all the headphones you already own with the Lightning port. With that, while it will be a little annoying to use the adapter, it will be easy to continue listening to music almost as easily as before.
The headphone jack is going to disappear at some point, whether it be this year or in five years, and when it does there will be people who are outraged. Despite this, with the promise of better audio quality paired with the fact that Apple has Beats to help it, the move from headphone jack listening to non-headphone jack listening doesn't need to be as painful as some think it will be.
Plus, it doesn't matter what any of us think anyway. This is Apple. It will do what it wants.