Alexander Skogberg

UX, Web & Design

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Forget about the headphone jack, try seeing the big picture

“What’s the shitstorm about this time?”, my classmate Simone asked as I gave him a tl;dr of Apple’s event on September 7.

I laughed hard at the fact that he knew there would be controversy without even having heard anything about the event. After all, Apple has a history of making bold changes to its product lineup only to be met with immediate heavy critique.

Some examples:

No headphone jack on the new iPhone

This time, Apple is getting heat for removing the standard headphone jack from the new iPhone.

The headphone jack in an iPhone
The iPhone headphone jack (image from ifixit.com)

This means you have to use a bundled adapter to connect your current headphones to the new iPhone, unless you use the new version of the bundled EarPods that will be equipped with a Lightning connector.

However, if you want to use your headphones while charging your iPhone you’re out of luck unless you get a pair of wireless headphones. For example, Apple’s new AirPods that will ship later this fall for $159.

iPhone 7 with AirPods
The iPhone 7 with a pair of AirPods.

The reason? Courage

Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing stated: “It really comes down to one word: Courage. The courage to move on and do something new that betters all of us”.

This set the Internet on fire. In tweets, Facebook posts and comments sections enraged tech fans called bullshit on Schiller and Apple. While I understand the immediate frustration, I don’t agree.

Here’s my idea: removing the headphone jack, actually, is about courage.

But the only major issue I have with this move is that the AirPods won’t be bundled with the new iPhone. That would have made Apple’s push for wireless more believable from the get-go.

The advantages of no headphone jack

Luckily, there are several advantages of removing the headphone jack on the new iPhone.

First, in this interview with Buzzfeed Apple’s senior vice president for hardware engineering Dan Riccio explains that removing headphone jack freed up space for Apple to insert more advanced camera technology, a bigger battery and finally meet the IP67 water resistance spec (resistant under one meter of water for 30 minutes).

Second, every major headphone manufacturer will soon start offering great new wireless headphones with the new Apple W1 chip (Apple and Beats announced three of them the same day). Competition will result in greater products to lower prices, it always does.

Third, Bluetooth 5.0 is due later this year or early 2017. It will offer doubled speed, quadrupled range and increased data broadcasting capacity by 800 %.

Fourth, how nice isn’t it going to be when wireless headphones are the new normal and we don’t have to untangle those pesky wires?

Apple might be arrogant at times, but they are big enough, influential enough and (yes) courageous enough to take the first hard to step to something that we all will take for granted in a year or two.

Agree or not? Feel free to share your opinions in the comment section.

/Alex

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