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Iphone Hardware Hacking Apple Hardware

'Headphone Jacks Are the New Floppy Drives' (daringfireball.net) 771

According to the Wall Street Journal, Apple's upcoming iPhone won't have a 3.5mm headphone jack. The news has already upset many people. The Verge's Nilay Patel wrote on Tuesday that the decision of getting rid of the legacy headphone port is "user hostile and stupid." Apple commentator John Gruber makes a case for why Apple's supposed move is not a bad idea at all. He writes:Patel misses the bigger problem. It's not enforcement of DRM on audio playback. It's enforcement of the MFi Program for certifying hardware that uses the Lightning port. Right now any headphone maker in the world can make any headphones they want for the standard jack. Not so with the Lightning port.He adds that the existing analog headphone jack "is more costly in terms of depth than thickness," and by getting rid of it, Apple could use the extra real estate to stuff in more battery juice. Addressing Patel's point that the move of ditching a deeply established standard will "disproportionately impact accessibility," Gruber adds that "enabling, open, and democratizing" have never been high on Apple's list of priorities for external ports. Gruber also addressed Patel's argument that introducing a Lightning Port-enabled headphone feature will make Android and iPhone headphones incompatible. He wrote: Why would Apple care about headphone compatibility with Android? If Apple gave two shits about port compatibility with Android, iPhones would have Micro-USB ports. In 1998 people used floppy drives extensively for sneaker-netting files between Macs and PCs. That didn't stop Apple from dropping it.As for "nobody is asking" Apple to remove headphone jack from the next iPhone, Gruber reminds: This is how it goes. If it weren't for Apple we'd probably still be using computers with VGA and serial ports. The essence of Apple is that they make design decisions "no one asked for".The 3.5mm headphone jack has been around for decades. We can either live with it forever, or try doing something better instead. History suggests that OEMs from across the world quickly replicate Apple's move. Just the idea of Apple removing the headphone jack -- the rumor of which first began last year -- arguably played an instrumental role in some smartphones shipping without the legacy port this year. If this is a change that we really need, Apple is perhaps the best company to set the tone for it. Though, whether we really need to get rid of the headphone jack remains debatable.
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'Headphone Jacks Are the New Floppy Drives'

Comments Filter:
  • by Rob MacDonald ( 3394145 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2016 @11:42AM (#52367055)
    They've managed to find a way to force you into buying all new audio equipment, or at the very least, an expensive dongle. It's genius, it really is. You thought it was bad when Apple made hardware companies pay for the right to put that ipod port on there, to provide a better "experience" well... kiss your non apple branded EVERYTHING goodbye. God I hate these guys sometimes. We don't need to replace every piece of technology we own every 2 years you assholes
  • Plenty of new motherboards with onboard video still have VGA ports, judging by Newegg's and Fry's offerings?
  • by Joe_Dragon ( 2206452 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2016 @11:45AM (#52367087)

    apple wants the $29.99 for old ports wants to be more thin and git even more profit. What is next for the mac pro no analog audio out no e-net no full size usb. But for only $19.99-$29.99 each you can get that back.

  • by redmid17 ( 1217076 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2016 @11:47AM (#52367099)
    It will kill your battery life and/or require you to purchase a bunch of f*cking dongles to charge your phone and use the headphones at the same time. Patel's list is right on the money. Most people can't even hear well enough to differentiate between the quality of analog vs digital and don't use music with that high of a bit rate anyway. Looks like I'm gonna be limited to the iPhone SE when I finally upgrade off my 5. I don't want a huge phablet and I want a god damn headphone jack.
    • by b0bby ( 201198 )

      Looks like I'm gonna be limited to the iPhone SE when I finally upgrade off my 5.

      Or any of the gazillion Android phones which will still have a headphone jack.

  • Surface contact jack (Score:4, Informative)

    by Sarten-X ( 1102295 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2016 @11:49AM (#52367121) Homepage

    What ever happened to Apple's patent on a magnetic jack?

    The idea was that a normal headphone plug could be placed against an indentation on the phone, and the magnet would hold it fairly securely against the electrical contacts. That would allow it to be thinner and smaller than a normal jack that surrounds the plug.

    I'm hopeful that these rumors of not having a headphone jack refer to a regular jack...

  • by bkmoore ( 1910118 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2016 @11:49AM (#52367127)
    By the 1990s, floppies were woefully inadequate in capacity and needed to be replaced. In which way is a 3.5 mm analog jack inadequate at delivering audio?
    • by serviscope_minor ( 664417 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2016 @12:05PM (#52367257) Journal

      100% this!

      By the end of the floppy era, they were horribly small, and the disks were nasty and unreliable. They were ripe for replacement as one can see by the number of avenues explored:

      * LS 120 drives (lost out to zip drives)
      * Zip drives, very popular, but incompatible, never fully replaced floppies.
      * CD-RWs, initially expensive, slow, unreliable didn't work in all CD drives, excellent capacity, never fully replaced floppies.
      * CD-R/DVD-R initially expensive, eventually so cheap they were disposable (people bought stacks of 100), good capacity, good compatibility (CD drives were nearly ubiquitous) and they pretty much did replace floppies
      * Weirdass ones that never stood a chance.
      * USB Flash drives which were initially expensive, rare, slow and relied on horrendously unreliable USB stacks. Eventually USB2 happened, flash got cheap, the software got reliable and they mostly won.

      The basic function was to save data more or less for transfer between machines. By the time CD-Rs took over properly, floppies were awful. Tiny capacity, very slow, and unreliable.

      The 3.5" jack is none of those. It's slightly big, but is every bit as good at transferring audio to the ears as any other kind of cable. Versus bluetooth it's obviously wired, but has very substantial advantages of not needing recharging, being lag free and compression free. It's also cheap and compatible.

      The only thing that kept floppies alive was the compatibility problem, when technically it was bad. The 3.5mm jack is not technically bad like the floppy was.

      • by creimer ( 824291 )
        I'm looking at Blu-ray burners for data backup. Internal units are $50+. Media is a bit pricy for 100GB ($15+ per disc), but 50GB and 25GB are more affordable for a 25-disc spindle.
    • While I disagree with the (apparent) decision to remove the jack, I also don't think the jack is perfect. I can't tell you how many times I have had to fiddle with the jack to "fix" the audio. Haven't you ever had to twist, wiggle, unplug/plug, etc. the jack to get it to work? I've had this happen on tons of different devices. Sometime no audio will come out, sometimes only one channel, sometimes the audio will cut in and out. I can try different headphones, but the headphones and cord aren't the problem, s

  • Hilarious (Score:3, Funny)

    by Dunbal ( 464142 ) * on Wednesday June 22, 2016 @11:50AM (#52367129)
    All that bitching and moaning. You Apple fanboys just know that if Steve Jobs were still alive you would be lining up in the street for the new phone audio jack that only worked if you had to painfully shove it into your testicles at least every 5 minutes. Don't bitch about the monster company you helped create.
  • by Daimanta ( 1140543 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2016 @11:51AM (#52367139) Journal

    This Apple being weird and special again. The reason for ditching floppies was actually quite simple, it outlived its usefulness. It was replaced by CDs, DVDs and at a later time USB-sticks. There is no actual need for floppy disks and therefore FDDs are obsolete. This is however not the case for the 3.5mm jack. Apple likes to "innovate" by removing sensible things from their electronics. Their new Macbook, for instance, has only one single usb-c port and no other ports. You can call this strategy brilliant but in practice this means that people have to buy an extra adapter to connect all their peripherals to the one single usb-c port. It's not an improvement, it's a cashgrab and an annoyance. And naturally the Apple customers are gobbling it up.

    The same holds here. What's wrong with the standard 3.5mm jack? It works, it's universal(and I believe unencumbered by patents) and the peripherals are everywhere. It's a solution that works and any "better" idea on audio should at least be included side-to-side with the old adapters as this will allow an actually better standard for audio ports to form. As it is, this is a simple money and power grab from Apple by making stuff incompatible. Sure, you can buy a converter, but knowing Apple this will cost you dearly. Apple is being annoying again and the audio peripheral market will suffer as this will gain traction as Apple has clout in the electronics world.

    • Yup, I remember installing doom from a half dozen floppies. Even in their prime we hated floppies and wanted something better.
    • by vux984 ( 928602 )

      It was replaced by CDs, DVDs and at a later time USB-sticks. There is no actual need for floppy disks and therefore FDDs are obsolete.

      Yes and no. Yes they were inadequate, but the replacements weren't quite ready when apple pulled the plug on them.

      The floppy disk use case was still to get small files between two computers -- homework / basic documents / etc.

      The 'network' wasn't always available.

      CD/DVDs weren't generally writeable, and re/writeable disks were a bit of a pain; with +R -R +RW -RW, open and closed... I had Mac G5 that as I recall could only read one of +R or -R. It was years before everything could read everything.

      Zip drives

  • by jareth-0205 ( 525594 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2016 @11:51AM (#52367141) Homepage

    Why in tech must we call everything old "legacy" and then assume it should go away? Maybe some thing work well enough that they should always be there. Some things are well designed and don't need to be changed. The 3.5mm port is resilient, rotatable, and universally supported, and only slightly bigger than the latest tech now would be able to replace it with.

    Just because it is analogue does not make it irrelevant. Your ears are analogue. Why add another level of technology, another thing to charge, putting a digital-to-analogue converter on every pair of earphones rather than just one in the phone...

    I remember having to have an adapter for headphones on the T-Mobile G1 and old Nokia phones, and it sucked then, and it will suck now. And so what if Apple release lightning headphones. Do we think they make the best headphones? They make crap headphones when compared to actual audio companies.

    This Apple apologist doesn't even try to make is sound good, just that Apple are going to do it anyway so you might as well get used to it.

  • by dynamo ( 6127 )

    I have a nice pair of Bluetooth headphones with mic, and as nice as they sound, the lag they introduce is unacceptable. Especially when it's been a few mins and it has to wake the bluetooth connection, it can take a quarter to a half second before I hear something that would have already been played if it were on the built-in speaker or on wired headphones.

    When watching video, it makes a big difference, it feels like something is wrong with the file. When using it for voice communication, it makes a small b

  • Save 1mm? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by tmshort ( 1097127 )

    They could save 1mm by going to 2.5mm jacks. Those are reasonably standard and would require only a small (and inexpensive!) adapter for older headphones. My Bose noise-canceling headset uses a 2.5mm plug/jack into the actual headphones (cable is removable).

    I suspect the loss of this jack may be somewhat related to improving water resistance; those 3.5mm jacks are deep and have lots of potential for leaking.

  • If this is a change that we really need, Apple is perhaps the best company to set the tone for it.

    No. Other companies need to be involved.

  • 2. Wireless headphones and speakers are fine, not great

    Totally agree. But the rumor is that the new iPhone will ship with wired Lightning earbuds.

    Which means that you can't plug your earbuds or other listening device in while charging.... oh, unless you have a dongle that will set you back at least another $30... something that will probably *NOT* ship with the iphone.

    • by Sebby ( 238625 )

      Which means that you can't plug your earbuds or other listening device in while charging.... oh, unless you have a dongle that will set you back at least another $30... something that will probably *NOT* ship with the iphone.

      ... And break within 30 days, as do all their cables.

  • by OzPeter ( 195038 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2016 @12:03PM (#52367231)

    All I have been hearing is Apple, Apple, Apple. Yet from Motorola killed the headphone jack and nobody noticed [bgr.com] 10 days ago

    There are many interesting things about the Moto Z devices presented yesterday, ultra-thin handsets that bring modularity to Motorola’s lineup of mobile products. One of them is the lack of a 3.5mm headphone jack, which absolutely nobody noticed during the event.

    • by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2016 @12:14PM (#52367357)

      Because Apple's change affects many millions of users around the world.
      Because Apple brought the mobile audio industry forward after a lull left by the Walkman.

      And because many people on here couldn't even name a Motorola phone model. Is this their Razr reboot, or do they actually have a phone on the market right now?

    • By all accounts someone else is going to kill the headphone jack shortly too in the Android world. If rumors are to be believed, this phone will also demonstrate another reason why people want to kill the headphone jack that is useful (for many, not all). I personally think it is premature, but we will have to wait and see if they manage to stick the landing.

  • by Marlin Schwanke ( 3574769 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2016 @12:04PM (#52367247)

    I don't give one hoot about Apple dropping the 3.5mm jack if the are providing a Lightning Port to 3.5mm adapter. The 3.5mm jack is fine in a larger device but it probably does need to go away in a modern, thin phone.

    As far as port compatibility that some rant on about, if it means having a micro USB port on my iPhone then to hell with compatibility. I don't know how many broken USB ports I've had to to repair or replace on devices in my shop. The Lightning Port is a far more robust mechanical design.

    Kudos to Apple for moving the industry forward!

  • by Crashmarik ( 635988 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2016 @12:04PM (#52367249)

    You can buy a smartphone, with 3.5 mm jack for less than Apple's dongle will cost you.

    As it stands they already make great home control panels/security devices. Cheap enough to put one in every room. Low power use and a solid sensor suite.

  • by xxxJonBoyxxx ( 565205 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2016 @12:08PM (#52367289)
    When I was young, people would talk about the horrors of totalitarianism in Soviet Russia. I guess we only have Apple and North Korea to show us what it looks like now. But as for Apple customers, I have no sympathy: YOU decided to enter the walled garden. Enjoy your toilet paper ration.
    • by creimer ( 824291 )

      But as for Apple customers, I have no sympathy: YOU decided to enter the walled garden. Enjoy your toilet paper ration.

      Right. When my 2006 MacBook died a few years ago, I transferred my data over to a Windows PC and continued on. Why? Because I'm using standard formats that interchangeable between Linux, Mac and Windows. If I decide to move away from my iPhone, nothing prevents me from moving to a cellphone with Android, Blackberry or Windows.

  • Is that if you want to use macOs or iOs, you have to put up with hardware design which turns incompatibily and unmaintainability into an art form. If macbooks were designed like thinkpads, and imacs and mac pros like the hp Z workstation, life with them would be so much easier. Instead Apple has become a shiny toy company whose raison d'etre is to prise as much mone from the expensive end of the consumer market as possible.

    • specifically because they *don't* design macbooks like thinkpads and imacs like HP pcs.

      Don't you idiots ever get tired of being so consistently fucking wrong about Apple all the time? Seriously? Do you enjoy looking like a fucking moron on the internet?

  • by SoundGuyNoise ( 864550 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2016 @12:12PM (#52367335) Homepage

    Have they considered how this will affect Square and other similar hardware and functionality?

  • It's not enforcement of DRM on audio playback. It's enforcement of the MFi Program for certifying hardware that uses the Lightning port. Right now any headphone maker in the world can make any headphones they want for the standard jack. Not so with the Lightning port.

    So yes, it is about DRM: limiting what headphones can be put into the phone. Jerks.

    Even audiophiles use standard jacks, so it's not a problem of audio quality.

    Also, Apple has a habit of using weird ports, and unlike obsoleting the floppy, the weird ports have been a failure every time (except some designed by Woz back in the 80s).

  • Well not precisely - one of the early iPhones (I forget which) had the headphone jack recessed in a little hole. Problem was, the hole was big enough for the supplied earbuds but most third party headphones had plugs which wouldn't fit. So an accessory market sprung up for little extenders. It was so dumb, and so annoying.

    I'm a somewhat reluctant supporter of Apple in general, but I do really like iOS devices. I like the lightning connector and wish it was used elsewhere (but I hope USB C is a good substitu

  • Floppies faded out because people stopped using them once better (as in, improved longevity and capacity) media came around. The new media were still physical and inserted into PC's, so they functioned rather similarly although in some cases you were trading magnetic degradation for scratching or failing dyes in the cheaper CD-R's.

    Bluetooth is *not* a 1:1 replacement for regular headphones because
    a) It requires power. That means another device that needs charging, and it can run out in inopportune moments
    b)

  • by fafaforza ( 248976 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2016 @12:22PM (#52367445)

    Heh, how laughable. Apple could add a lot more battery by making their already beyond-svelte iPhones 1mm thicker. No one is complaining about the phones being too thick any more, but they are complaining about battery life.

  • by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2016 @12:24PM (#52367463)

    Yep if it weren't for Apple we'd still be in the stone age installing windows 10 from 4216 floopy disks. All technical progression such as digital monitors would not happen without Apple.

    Except the summary and the comments are a load of bollocks.The floppy drive was being replaced by many people, with efforts on multiple fronts. Apple was the first to remove it as having complete control over their platform meant their system didn't rely on things like floppy disks for recovery.

    Let's ignore the people who developed and pushed for USB were Microsoft, Intel, IBM, Compaq, and DEC, ... there's a name missing from the list .... oh no there isn't Apple didn't have any hand in developing the USB successor. But hey the iMac had the first USB port so it must all be Apple's good work.

    Speaking of Apple doing things. Which was the only computer company not part of the DDWG who created the successor to VGA? Oh that's right Apple didn't take part. But hey they're the reason we're not using VGA for some reason.

    The idiot in the summary is nothing but a troll.

    • Except the summary and the comments are a load of bollocks.The floppy drive was being replaced by many people, with efforts on multiple fronts.

      Bullshit. Apple was roundly villified for DARING to release a computer without Floppy drives in 1998.

      Let's ignore the people who developed and pushed for USB were Microsoft, Intel, IBM, Compaq, and DEC, ... there's a name missing from the list .... oh no there isn't Apple didn't have any hand in developing the USB successor. But hey the iMac had the first USB port so it must all be Apple's good work.

      Apple didn't have the first USB port; nobody EVER said that (Intel was the main "driver" of USB at first); but they did have the first WORKING USB Port with actual OS-Level support.

      Check the history on how long it was before WIndows and Linux had decent USB support. Hint: It was AFTER Apple.

      There were PLENTY of Wintel motherboards with USELESS USB connectors connectors on them for a couple of YEARS befor

  • by DarkOx ( 621550 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2016 @12:31PM (#52367515) Journal

    In 1998 the 1.4MB capacity of the floppy was already severely limiting. While there were still a largish number of system being used on a day to day basis that did not have some better alternative available like USB or writable optical of some sort and alternatives like Zip, Jazz, SuperDisk, SyQuest etc were hardly universal and not always even ubiquitous; it was clear to everyone that the floppy was limiting.

    There were a lots of jobs where the floppy was perfectly adequate and even the easiest route but in 1998 it was possible to create a word processing document that did not fit on the standard 1.4MB diskette, all you needed was to include a high res picture or two. Once you had a single files to large for a diskette you were down the path of splitting them somehow which usually implied some software your recipient did not have and kill the whole universality thing. So people had good reasons to want to "move on" from diskettes beyond just the fact that Apple did not feel like offering diskette drives as standard equipment anymore.

    Compare this with the 3.5mm jack (at least the modified and backward compatible 4 conductor variety that supports mics). It delivers just about everything you could want as far as getting audio headsets. It offers better fidelity than most of the alternative solutions, bluetooth etc. Its possible to run headsets with some smarts and implement signaling like vol up/dn, next track, in devices while still being compatible with cheapo dumb headsets. Its fairly rugged, easy to blow dust out of with canned air, being round a pulled cable usual 'pops out' without damaging either the cable or the receptacle at anything but fairly extreme angles. Essentially if offers me and I think most users just about everything they could want in an audio jack. Unlike the diskette of 1998 its not evident at least not to me that its facing near term inadequacy for any common application.

    As to the thickness arguments, well the camera is really still the limiting factor there. The foot print of a 3.5mm jack in smart phone is not preventing larger batters, that is just strait up BS. Once you already have to have a bump out to accommodate the camera, I am not sure making the rest of the device thinner than that adds value, especially when almost everyone puts these things in some kind of protective box anyway. Most people I talk to use a case not only for protection but because the thing is so thin its actually akward to hold and operate one handed without it!

  • Erh... no. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2016 @12:58PM (#52367795)

    The comparison falls flat on so many levels.

    First an foremost, the floppy died because it was no longer able to fulfill its role as a data storage medium. Data size simply outgrew its ability to hold it. The older ones here might still remember playing Monkey Island on the Amiga with a ridiculous amount of floppies, constantly swapping despite having two floppy drives.

    There was simply a demand for something that could hold more data than the floppy was able to. CDs filled this role, as well as ZIP drives did. There was a demand for such larger media because the floppy was simply getting too small.

    I fail to see this development with headphone jacks. Considering that our kids consider YouTube videos good enough to watch their music, I doubt that they are really craving the high quality audio digital audio could deliver.

    This looks more like a solution desperately trying to find a problem so it could become relevant. Or, in other words, we'll get another demand from the supply side shoved down our throats.

    Could someone explain capitalism to me again? I think I misunderstood a thing or two.

  • by evil_aaronm ( 671521 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2016 @01:07PM (#52367903)
    Admittedly, I'm a corner case, but I need the 1/8" jack to connect to my cochlear implant, if I want to do the equivalent of "use headphones." The sound processor has an input jack just for that purpose. So, unless Apple makes a Lightning-to-1/8" adapter, I won't be able to "plug in" and listen quietly to my music. Why do you hate handicapped people, Apple...?
  • ... being fucking compatible with the connectors for nearly every single audio device ever made in the past 40 years?

    Yeah, they'll have a dongle to convert... but that dongle is still an additional expense that isn't likely going to be included with the iphone.

    The 3.5mm jack is among one of the most ubiquitous audio connector form factors in the history of recorded audio. Breaking from it offers absolutely no perceptible benefit that is not accompanied by significantly greater expense and inconvenience for the consumer

  • by Nyder ( 754090 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2016 @02:24PM (#52368525) Journal

    I have a dumb phone. Not because I don't like smartphones, only because I'm too poor to afford one. But my dumb phone doesn't have an ear phone jack either. And I had this samsung phone about 5 years ago, it didn't have a headphone jack either, had a dongle i'd have to plug into it's usb port.

    So while you peeps with your fancy smartphone and iPhones are complaining, this isn't new at all.

    But it still sucks imo.

  • by lorinc ( 2470890 ) on Wednesday June 22, 2016 @03:00PM (#52368821) Homepage Journal

    If it weren't for Apple we'd probably still be using computers with VGA and serial ports.

    I wish I had a fucking VGA port on every laptop I bought recently. The so called new standards are a complete mess, without consensus and often incompatible setups. Seriously, if you have to project something often, then VGA is still the best solution so far. Partly because every projector has a vga input that always works, and partly because to other things are complete garbage. Simple standards that work as expected all the time should never be phased out.

    Oh, and give me my ethernet port back too! I'm tired of all those shitty wifi connection with their incorrect authentication schemes and awful bandwidth. So far, I never used a laptop while running, so I don't mind plugging it to the network. Hey, I plug it for power anyway, so...

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