Apple could be about to kill the 3.5mm headphone socket with Lightning headphones

Apple could be about to make the 3.5mm headphone socket on its devices redundant, with the recent unveiling of a Lightning module for headphones.

At a WWDC session on "Designing Accessories for iOS and OS X", Robert Walsh, manager of platform accessories at Apple, announced the new headphone Lightning module. 

The new connector will allow headphones to plug straight into the Lightning connector on the iPhone or iPad for analogue audio, rather than having to use the traditional 3.5mm socket. 

That, of course, would mean that those "Made for iPhone" headphones really wouldn't connect to anything else, although many high-end headphones offer detachable cables, so you could simply switch them over as necessary. 

With Apple having just acquired Beats Audio, you can be pretty sure you'll find Beats headphones for iPhone with a Lightning cable in the future.

Walsh went on to reveal some of the advantages that using the Lightning headphone module would bring. You'd be able to get better controls over music apps - like iTunes Radio - as well as getting support for app-enabled headphones, as you'll have both the digital and analogue connections in one.

"If your headphones, for example, support, let's say, noise cancellation, you can offer an app on your device that communicates with your headphones to control how that operates," said Walsh in the presentation. 

There's an additional advantage too: you can draw power through the Lightning connector, so you wouldn't need batteries in your headphones, although that will have a negative impact on your device's stamina.

A switch to using the Lightning connector instead of the traditional 3.5mm headphone socket would allow Apple to save internal space on the iPhone 6, however we're not convinced Apple would make such a big move. 

You wouldn't be able to charge your phone and listen to music at the same time, for example.



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