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Apple announces Lightning-enabled headphone standard in WWDC session

post #1 of 49
Thread Starter 
During a WWDC session earlier this week, Apple revealed a new Lightning module for headphones that promises to provide deeper system controls, direct analog audio out and power to compatible accessories.


Slide from Apple's WWDC session on accessories.


Unlike the ubiquitous 3.5mm jack used in modern portable audio devices, the new Lightning headphone module offers a number of advantages to third-party accessory makers, Apple said during the "Designing Accessories for iOS and OS X" session on Tuesday.

According to Apple's manager of platform accessories Robert Walsh, the new Lightning headphone module connects directly into an iOS device's Lightning port, breaking out analog audio. In addition, the module offers more bandwidth and a digital interface for richer control of system services like iTunes Radio.

"If your headphones support, for example, noise cancellation, you can offer an app on your device that communicates with your headphones that controls how it operates," Walsh said.

Alongside the increased bandwidth on tap from Lightning, the connection standard can deliver power to advanced headphone accessories. By offloading energy supply duties to an iPhone or iPad, a headphone maker can do away with some of the bulk that comes from designing space for a battery pack.

Finally, Apple said it is working on specialized small form factor connector modules for manufacturers looking to build form-fitting cases and cables.

It is unclear when hardware makers will roll out a Lightning-enabled headphone, but with the specification now available the first models may see release in time for iOS 8. Apple may also be working on its own solution in a Lightning-enabled EarPods design, though evidence that such hardware is in development has yet to surface.
post #2 of 49
I'm betting that this may mean that the iWatch only has a lightning port and no traditional headphone jack in it. It would allow Apple to save some internal space.
post #3 of 49
Originally Posted by toolsoldier View Post
I'm betting that this may mean that the iWatch only has a lightning port and no traditional headphone jack in it. It would allow Apple to save some internal space.

 

I’m betting that this means the product doesn’t exist and that the next iPhone only has a Lightning port. :p

Originally posted by Relic

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Originally posted by Relic

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post #4 of 49
Adios 1/8" Jack

One thought he was invincible... the other thought he could fly.

They were both wrong.

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One thought he was invincible... the other thought he could fly.

They were both wrong.

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post #5 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

I’m betting that this means the product doesn’t exist and that the next iPhone only has a Lightning port. 1tongue.gif

I think the most likely outcome is Apple will wait to see how this works out before making that jump. There are definitely benefits to this option, especially when you consider the higher data rates that may be needed for getting biometrics from in-ear phones to send back to the iPhone's Health app.

"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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post #6 of 49
I don't see the headphone jack going away...yet. I can see a lot of people being upset if it did happen as plenty of people use headphones while charging their device.
post #7 of 49
Seems like a step back for a typical consumer. Bluetooth headsets are clearly the future, especially with an ipod app in a watch. Who's gonna walk around with a cable hanging from their wrist? Bluetooth, my friends.
post #8 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rogifan View Post

I don't see the headphone jack going away...yet. I can see a lot of people being upset if it did happen as plenty of people use headphones while charging their device.

Is there no reason one can't have a cable splitter or dock with a Lighnting port for headphones in the front?
Edited by SolipsismX - 6/5/14 at 7:20pm

"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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post #9 of 49

It was obvious when they introduced Lightning ports that the stereo jack was on its way (slowly) out.

 

Two solutions come to mind for charging and listening. Either a "splitter" type short cable that allows charger cable and earphone cable to both be plugged in.

 

Or simply have two lightning ports. Which is actually an interesting idea as it allows for multiple things to be used at once not just charging and ear buds. 
 

Assuming that Apple won't think of a solution before shipping is just being lazy.

post #10 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by AjbDtc826 View Post

Seems like a step back for a typical consumer. Bluetooth headsets are clearly the future, especially with an ipod app in a watch. Who's gonna walk around with a cable hanging from their wrist? Bluetooth, my friends.

I don't think this has anything to do with a wristwork device, but either way a Lighnting cable or 3.5mm cable for headphones on your wrist (like with other smartwatches) all look silly.

I agree that BT, or rather wireless, is the future, but is the battery life for the needed data hear yet? BLE would be great but it can't support the needed bitrate.

"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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post #11 of 49
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post
Is there a reason one can't have a cable splitter or dock with a Lighnting port for headphones in the front?

 

I imagine it would be something like this.

 

On that note, I really want to find an Apple Bluetooth Headset to have. New in box. Not getting earwigs from someone.

Originally posted by Relic

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Originally posted by Relic

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post #12 of 49
Imagine a flat, super-light, and thin Lightening cable. No more twisted-sheath problems. This will not replace the traditional audio jack, at least for several generations, but does set the stage for an entirely new breed of headset and other body accessories.
post #13 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by coolfactor View Post

Imagine a flat, super-light, and thin Lightening cable. No more twisted-sheath problems. This will not replace the traditional audio jack, at least for several generations, but does set the stage for an entirely new breed of headset and other body accessories.

Didn't Beats pioneer the headphone cable that doesn't tangle?

"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

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post #14 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

I’m betting that this means the product doesn’t exist and that the next iPhone only has a Lightning port. 1tongue.gif
i was thinking that but next iPhone not quite there, maybe next iPod and you haft to but lighting to 3.5 mm to replace it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

I think the most likely outcome is Apple will wait to see how this works out before making that jump. There are definitely benefits to this option, especially when you consider the higher data rates that may be needed for getting biometrics from in-ear phones to send back to the iPhone's Health app.
Could be something like iPhone 7.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rogifan View Post

I don't see the headphone jack going away...yet. I can see a lot of people being upset if it did happen as plenty of people use headphones while charging their device.
easily a splitter could be added for such a case

Quote:
Originally Posted by AjbDtc826 View Post

Seems like a step back for a typical consumer. Bluetooth headsets are clearly the future, especially with an ipod app in a watch. Who's gonna walk around with a cable hanging from their wrist? Bluetooth, my friends.
Apparently the market in headphones is not yet ready for Bluetooth so something like this to serve the next 8 years till Bluetooth is more reasonable and the lighting port itself is replaced.
post #15 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by DimMok View Post

Adios 1/8" Jack

Don't worry. Apple will sell you a dongle for $29.95. 1wink.gif

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"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

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post #16 of 49
I really do think the is the foray into amalgamating all cables into one. I suspect also that the acquisition if beats electronics was to have industry influence to move this change from old 1/8"lug over to lightning. Why have many cables when one can do all. If the lightning cable is the new thunderbolt 3 cable, it could do everything. Bluetooth although practical for lightweight headphones, earphones are too small to support noise cancellation by themselves. I guess apple would hope this becomes a standard. Thunderbolt did not take off as expected in terms of wide adoption, principally I think because of the price. But I think apple is determined to get lightning mainstream. Ubiquity of ios devices would certainly help this plan.
post #17 of 49
How is this different than what speaker docks already do? (other than the obvious fact that one is a speaker and the other is a set of headphones)
post #18 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by AjbDtc826 View Post

Seems like a step back for a typical consumer. Bluetooth headsets are clearly the future, especially with an ipod app in a watch. Who's gonna walk around with a cable hanging from their wrist? Bluetooth, my friends.
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX 
I agree that BT, or rather wireless, is the future, but is the battery life for the needed data hear yet?

Yes, Sony's bluetooth headphones manage 40 hours of wireless audio ( http://www.amazon.com/Sony-DRB-TN200-BLK-Bluetooth-Headset/dp/B00BN0N0A8 ) but they don't have to stream the audio continually if it's local music playback. They can have hardware inside the headphones that buffers the audio so instead of the headphones using wireless for the whole 3-5 minutes of a song, it can buffer that amount within seconds and then shut off the wireless. They can in fact do that with all audio and simply buffer blocks of a few MB. There can be a whole iPod inside the headphones.

The other reason for wireless is that the headphones will be used for more than iOS devices. Macs don't have Lightning ports. I suppose they could use a USB to Lightning adaptor but they'd have to add more USB ports.

The downside with wireless would be having the wireless headphones disconnecting and the iOS device reverting to the internal speaker. They'd have to have a manual control to switch to internal. Ideally they'd mute and pause audio on disconnection of the headphones so the user has to manually turn it on if they wanted and it would be nice if they'd do this when normal headphones disconnect too.
post #19 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin View Post


Yes, Sony's bluetooth headphones manage 40 hours of wireless audio ( http://www.amazon.com/Sony-DRB-TN200-BLK-Bluetooth-Headset/dp/B00BN0N0A8 )...

I was expecting something much smaller with in-ear phone. That size with only 40 hours doesn't seem like a lot to me.

"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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post #20 of 49

Amen.

 

Apple has the tightest hole in the biz. I like the story of Steve Jobs telling his engineers to tighten it up at the late hour nearing the iPhone introduction. It seems I've had more than a few gadgets where the jack started malfunctioning and the sound went in and out and generally drove me nuts.

 

I'll take the lightning connection with a splitter or whatever they come up with so I can charge and listen. Time to retire old holes.

post #21 of 49

I hope this doesn't mean the traditional 3.5mm jack will disappear from Apple  devices.  What percentage of headphones actually in use, or that will be, are powered or will require all this other stuff?  Less than 5% I would say and I think all this health monitoring shit is just that.

 

If Apple had introduced a new headphone coupling along the lines of the mag-safe power connector then that would have been a brilliant move and I would even have put up with the inelegance of an adapter in order to reap the benefits, but not this.

post #22 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by toolsoldier View Post

I'm betting that this may mean that the iWatch only has a lightning port and no traditional headphone jack in it. It would allow Apple to save some internal space.

 

Any ports on the iPhone make no sense. Having a headphone cable going from your wrist to your ear would be a bad idea.

Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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post #23 of 49
Hi, first post. 1smile.gif
I don't think it's a big stretch to assume Beats headsets with a Lightning connector will be available with the next iPhone, and probably with a lossless option for songs on iTunes and/or Beats Music. All the pieces are starting to fit together.
post #24 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by cnocbui View Post

I hope this doesn't mean the traditional 3.5mm jack will disappear from Apple  devices.  What percentage of headphones actually in use, or that will be, are powered or will require all this other stuff?

What they could do is have wireless headphones with a fully detachable cable that connects Lightning to the headphones. This would let the headphones charge using the iOS chargers but also allow you to use the headphones when the power has run out. To use 3rd party headphones, they can make a Lightning to 3.5mm adaptor, which could be like the HDMI adaptor with power on it:

http://store.apple.com/us/product/MD826ZM/A/lightning-digital-av-adapter?

They wouldn't have to add power-in but some people might play music in an older dock.
post #25 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post


Is there no reason one can't have a cable splitter or dock with a Lighnting port for headphones in the front?

I hope you don't mean anything like the dongle I used to need to plug standard headphones into my HTC something-or-other Windows Mobile phone.  In practice I just never had it with me when I wanted it.

iPhone 5 64GB, iPhone 4S 16GB, mid-2011 iMac, Apple TV 2nd Gen, iPod Nano

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post #26 of 49
Lightning Beats by Dr Dre?
 
Where's the new Apple TV?
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Where's the new Apple TV?
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post #27 of 49
imagine my surprise when my new AppleTV didn't provide RCA's!
it took over 2 weeks for the china to deliver my ebay toslink adapter
post #28 of 49
The lightning plug is useless when not charging. Using it for headphones makes sense.
At the same time, I often listen to music while my iPhone or iPad are charging, and I wouldn't want it to go, even if it's to make the design simpler.
post #29 of 49

Does this mean that Macs will start having a lightning port too? Lightning headphones would only be useful if they are compatible with the whole ecosystem...

post #30 of 49

To all of you people bidding farewell to the 3.5mm jack, don't panic, Apple will make an adapter.

 

I suspect that the Beats headphones that use this new tech will have 2 female connections on 1 side so you can choose whether to use a 3.5mm male to male or a lightning male to male.

post #31 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post


I think the most likely outcome is Apple will wait to see how this works out before making that jump. There are definitely benefits to this option, especially when you consider the higher data rates that may be needed for getting biometrics from in-ear phones to send back to the iPhone's Health app.

this...  the 1/8th jack has been munged to do limited data back to the mother unit.  Time to move on.. .and BT while a great technology, still has some bugs for the general public to handle.

 

This allows for:

1) a comprehensive digital audio out standard (hey... another one) that drives headphones, and small speaker/charger units at a higher fidelity

 

2) off loads about 3cc's of space that can be used for something else (that's a lot of battery), by making your 1/8' connector 'a dongle.'  

 

If Apple gives you an enhanced airbud (better sound, better miccing, H/R and body Temp Monitor ... replacement $19.99), and you can buy a $19.99 dongle that splits a 1/8th out and allows for charging, to them, that's 'backward compatible' for them, and Apple history is one of doing exactly this (HDMI-out?)

 

3) better audio-in fidelity for facetime and speaker phone attachments (hook your phone up to a speaker/mic 'puck' system for a full conference room sound system, that does echo control and noise reduction).

 

4) as noted above, more data can be collected other than button clicks and audio.  Biometrics, and Orientation (if your ears are here...  calculate head orientation.  direction, pitch, yaw....  so... your eyes are looking .... there) are likely stuff, but also better ambient noise detection, and 'other sensors' (cams).

 

5) more data can be sent out... low fidelity video.  If they were ever to do a HUD (dare I say iGlasses), this cabling std is now driving digital data for an external display separate from the unit in your pocket.

 

6) HealthKit 2.0... Reliable telemetry for more medically exacting monitoring.   Why not get an FDA approved device to collect data [ekg, B/P, PulseOx, invasive monitoring), and allow for R/T uploads of data to the phone which then monitors and alerts you/care-team of issues.   BlueTooth would be a problem that can fail.  Wires... less so.   

 

7) Immersive VR.  Beats + Oculus VR.  I don't want to do that with BlueTooth.

post #32 of 49
if they do this it will be an instant switch to Android for me. I use bluetooth headphones a lot but for call clarity nothing beats wired and out of 10 bluetooth headsets I've used the voice quality is terrible. What if I want to listen to music when my bluetooth headphones run out of battery. I don't want a damned adapter for my phone to listen to music. For the iWatch - this would still be sub-optimal but I don't see music playing directly from the watch. iWatch will be a remote and relay device not a primary phone or MP3 player.
post #33 of 49
Just get rid of the cord altogether and make everyone buy Bluetooth.
Just like Apple cut the cord to keyboards and mice.
And just like Apple got rid of DVD drives in irder to gain thinness.
Problem solved.
 
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post #34 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheOtherGeoff View Post

4) as noted above, more data can be collected other than button clicks and audio.  Biometrics, and Orientation (if your ears are here...  calculate head orientation.  direction, pitch, yaw....  so... your eyes are looking .... there) are likely stuff, but also better ambient noise detection, and 'other sensors' (cams).

5) more data can be sent out... low fidelity video.  If they were ever to do a HUD (dare I say iGlasses), this cabling std is now driving digital data for an external display separate from the unit in your pocket.

7) Immersive VR.  Beats + Oculus VR.  I don't want to do that with BlueTooth.

These. The things beyond sudio that the new "headphone" division is aimed at. Wearable interface of all kinds.
post #35 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

I was expecting something much smaller with in-ear phone. That size with only 40 hours doesn't seem like a lot to me.

If you think about how much you'd listen to music a day, even if it's 8 hours a day, that gives you 5 full work days without charging and if you had a habit of plugging them in when you stop using them, you'd never run out. Also the Sony ones are streaming the audio, like I say if Apple buffers the audio to internal hardware, it doesn't even need to use wireless except to fill the buffer so the battery could last even longer. The iPhone only lasts 40 hours for music playback so headphones that last over 40 hours will outlast the device playing the music.
post #36 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by pazuzu View Post

Just get rid of the cord altogether and make everyone buy Bluetooth.
Just like Apple cut the cord to keyboards and mice.
And just like Apple got rid of DVD drives in irder to gain thinness.
Problem solved.

Cut the cord?  How are you going to charge the device?  Obviously you don't listen to music in your car using an iDevice where people prefer to plug in to the vehicle so the device is charged and listening to music without the battery dying.  If they rid the headphone jack, now you have to remember to bring a dongle/splitter so you can keep your device charged while listening to music, as many do during work.  Apple didn't exactly cut the cord with keyboards.  Anyone who works with numbers, must buy the WIRED extended keyboard.

post #37 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post


I think the most likely outcome is Apple will wait to see how this works out before making that jump. There are definitely benefits to this option, especially when you consider the higher data rates that may be needed for getting biometrics from in-ear phones to send back to the iPhone's Health app.


They could also make a device with 2 or even 3 Lightning ports and give everyone a special Lightning to 3.5mm adapter so that older headphones continue to function (ie: keeps consumers happy).

post #38 of 49
Suddenly the reason they found Beats so interesting becomes clearer. And they had to seal the deal before the announcement made the connector transition super clear.
post #39 of 49
Excellent ... of course there will be the proverbial rash of complainers ... but I don't care, nor does Apple who once again steps in and fixes a problem with an elegant solution that will improve the users experience.
post #40 of 49
Once more Apple tells the world what they want. Everyone run out and buy another set of headphones - the one you have just became obsolete - Thanks Apple.
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