Published Jun 05, 2014It seems like Apple is aiming to conquer the headphone market. Having just purchased Beats for an incredible $3 billion, reports have now emerged that Apple will be switching out the standard 3.5mm headphone input for its own proprietary Lightning connector.
This news comes from 9to5Mac, which reports that Apple unveiled the new specifications to manufacturers via its accessories licensing program MFi. Apparently, the plan is that a future software update for iOS will flip a switch to make the Lightning connecter an accepted audio output.
For consumers, this comes with both advantages and pitfalls. Lightning apparently allows for higher quality loss audio output than the old 3.5mm format, it works as an input for microphones, and allows battery-powered headphones to draw power from an Apple device. It could also be possible for users to control apps such as iTunes directly from the headphones.
However, as Forbes points out, this will presumably mean that the 3.5mm input will be phased out completely, and anyone using an Apple device will need to abandon their old headphones and get a specially made new pair — likely those that come sporting a Beats logo.
Since the Lightning connector is proprietary, it's likely to create headphone incompatibility issues between Apple devices and other brands (or older Apple devices). Adaptors might be created, but this is unlikely to be a practical solution for small mobile devices.
It's unclear exactly when the changes will be rolled out, but we'd advise Apple users against getting to attached to their current headphones.
The Lightning connector was introduced in 2012 as a replacement for the prior 30-pin connector.