Will Apple drop the headphone jack on iPhone 7?

1 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Apple plans to slim down with upcoming iPhone 7.

Tech insiders speculate that the next generation of iPhones may ditch the standard 3.5 mm headphone jack. To make this happen, Apple plans to remove the phone’s headphone jack, whose 3.5mm width is what stands between the next iPhone and a thinner body, according to Japanese tech blog Macotakara.The often reliable Japanese blog, MacOtakara, reports that Apple is contemplating scrapping the 3.5mm port on its iPhone 7 in favour of the Lightning charging port or an entirely new styled USB-C port. Instead of employing the 3.5mm jack, iPhone 7 users reportedly will plug headphones into Apple’s Lightning power port, which has a thinner but wider spec.

That would slightly crimp the phone’s functionality, making it impossible, for example, to listen to music while charging the phone, unless Bluetooth is being used. Users could also presumably buy a Lightning cable with a digital-to-analog converter and a female 3.5mm plug on the end, so they could use their standard headphones. But that’s par for the course at Apple, where Chief Executive Tim Cook has faithfully preserved the late Steve Jobs’s obsession with creating ever-thinner hardware products. As this information comes from a blog of no particular repute, offering no specific sources (though they are “reliable sources”, apparently), the rumour shouldn’t have you tearing up your standard earbuds in rage just yet, but there are several indications that Apple really could be looking to abolish the 3.5 millimetre jack eventually. By drawing power the new headphones could include an amplifier or they could send more detailed information back to phones such as a request to open specific apps.

Old 3.5 mm headphones and earbuds would still be compatible with the jack-less phones, but customers would need an adapter to plug them into the Lightning port. Earlier this year, the new, 12-inch MacBook (1.31cm at its thickest) got blasted by critics for only having two ports — one for headphones and one for everything else. For starters, Apple loves to be able to say each new iPhone is its “thinnest ever”, and as Macotakara points out, the headphone jack is pretty much the full thickness of the iPhone 6s. However, this means that any non-Apple or Apple-licensed headphones will be rendered obsolete with the iPhone 7 unless Apple supplies a traditional 3.5mm to Lightning/USB-C adaptor. Apple’s decision to change the charging port for the iPhone 5 in 2012 angered fans and forced many to purchase adaptors for their docks and speakers.

But Apple lovers are already feeling the aversion to change this time around too, with many taking to social media to protest the rumored modification. Apple would not be the first smartphone manufacturer to ditch the headphone port, with Chinese giant Oppo removing it for its super skinny R5 and packaging in a micro-USB to 3.5mm headphone jack adaptor. Stripping the jack from the iPhone would also further cement people into Apple’s ecosystem and move customers towards the included earbuds, Beats-branded cans, or official Made-for-iPhone gear if they didn’t want to use an extra adaptor, giving Apple greater control over its devices’ audio experience. VTech, a Hong Kong-based company that sells baby monitors and digital learning toys such as children’s tablets, announced over the weekend that the data for 5 million “customer accounts and related kids’ profiles worldwide” were compromised as part of a cyber attack.

The stolen data included names and birthdates of kids, mailing addresses, email addresses, as well as what e-books, learning games and other software were downloaded to toys, the company said in a statement posted online. But the V-tech breach shows this data isn’t always being guarded well. “Toy companies are rushing to cash in on the changing nature of childhood in the Big Data era, where internet-connected toys are linking children to a vast surveillance network,” Jeffrey Chester, the executive director of the Centre for Digital Democracy, said. “These playthings can monitor their every move, turning what should be innocent and pleasurable experience into something potentially more sinister.” VTech sells popular toys mainly for young toddlers, including its “Sit-to-Stand Learning Walker”, “Baby’s Learning Laptop”, and “Kidizoom Smartwatch DX”. The company took down the Learning Lodge website and as of Monday, consumers could see only a message: “Due to a breach of security on our Learning Lodge website, we have temporarily suspended the site.” VTech is hardly the only company going high-tech.

This holiday season, Fisher-Price has been hawking its Smart Toy Monkey as an “interactive learning buddy” that “talks, listens and remembers what your child says.” The company states on its website that “we never send voice data over the internet”. The toy, however, checks a “secure server each day to see if there are new activities for your toy to learn” and remembers how engaged a child is with each activity. The new “Hello Barbie”, a doll that uses artificial intelligence to learn about children and carry on real-time conversations, was released last month – raising alarm bells for some consumer protection watchdogs. Mattel and ToyTalk, the company behind the doll’s voice features, have gone to great lengths to assure customers that information the doll collects will be safeguarded. Many toys are probably already vulnerable to data breaches, but have gone under the radar because attackers haven’t figured out how to make money from hacking them yet, Tyler Shields, a principal analyst focused on digital security at Forrester Research, said.

If the agency were to investigate VTech, that investigation may be complicated by the international nature of the breach: The company is based in Hong Kong and it affected consumers from countries across the globe.

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