Wednesday was Apple’s big announcement of the iPhone 7 and of course the big reveal was that the new iPhone does not have a standard headphone jack. Apple played this off as needing the space for other things, but then quickly said that they were being brave trying to create a new standard, and shift audio developments away from the phone, into the hands of audio companies that make the headphones.
I’m sure that the lightning-connector-to-headphone-jack dongle will be a standard carry item for most people who go with the iPhone 7, but it’s going to take more than a dongle to get people to convert. There are simply too many places in which a 3.5mm jack is still the only way to connect up your phone to a set of speakers. In particular I’m thinking about my car, which does not have Bluetooth. Instead I have a 3.5mm aux jack that I plug my phone into every single time I get into my car and want to listen to music. My options with an iPhone 7 will involve various dongles and splitters to get everything to work correctly, as I also need to charge my phone at the same time.
Apple’s answer for many of these issues is that our speakers should start being wireless, and on that note I agree with them wholeheartedly. However, it can’t be on the back of Bluetooth. I’ve tried many different Bluetooth devices, and audio just doesn’t sound good over Bluetooth. We need a new standard for wireless audio, and I was hopeful today would start that revolution.
The W1 wireless chip is Apple’s answer to the wireless audio problem. But, it appears to be poorly executed, as under the covers it’s just Bluetooth all over again. We needed something new for wireless audio, not just a tired of rehashing of a protocol that was never made for high fidelity music. Despite being one of the most exciting items, in terms of potential, the W1 chip disappointed me. Perhaps once I get to listen to it, it will sound substantially different and I’ll change my mind.
Of course, without a headphone jack I won’t be rushing out to buy an iPhone 7, but maybe someday in the future I’ll be able to use some great wireless headphones, that sound awesome; but, it won’t be because of anything Apple started today. The loss of a headphone jack isn’t the end of the world though. Let’s not forget that Apple was also the instigator in the death of the floppy drive so many years ago, and we all came along into the future kicking and screaming, and all the better for it. Maybe lightning headphones will take off and be all the rage, or perhaps they’ll flop. Apple is always willing to give something a try.