Last week Apple shocked the world because it removed the 3.5mm headphone jack from its upcoming iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. Despite the fact that there had been months of rumors suggesting the Cupertino-based company would do this, we can rightfully ignore this as a reason why people shouldn’t be shocked, because not everyone pays any attention to the rumors. Someone who owns an iPhone 6s may not have even watched the event, and only knows that a new iPhone is on the way because a sales rep at a carrier store told them it’s coming.
“Yeah, there’s a new iPhone coming. It doesn’t have a headphone jack.”
“What? I can’t plug in my headphones?”
“Nope. That’s the new hotness right there. No headphone jack. So you’ll have to use an adapter.”
Obviously that conversation would probably go much, much differently in a real situation, but it gets the point across. For a lot of people there won’t even be a mention of in-the-box Lightning EarPods thrown in for future iPhone owners. It’ll just weigh down on that adapter – but at least Apple is including one of those, too, right?
The headphone jack is a universal feature that even Apple has used over the years, despite its propensity for adopting technology that is all its own. But that future had to arrive eventually. There was always going to be a day when Apple, even if it’s only for a year, used its own technology in favor of something that everyone else uses.
It’s happened before. And hey, as long as Apple continues trucking along, it’ll happen again.
I believe that it’s possible Apple adopts USB Type-C in the future, maybe even as early as the 2017 iPhone, which would actually be adopting a technology that looks to be heading to near-universal adoption. So that’s good! If it happens. For now, though, we’re all forced to deal with the fact that Apple’s ditching the 3.5mm headphone jack and we have to use Lightning.
Anna already asked if other companies will follow suit, and the answer there is probably a resounding yes. In fact, we already saw one Chinese company and the Lenovo-owned Motorola ditch the 3.5mm headphone jack – even before Apple got around to doing it! So Apple wasn’t the first here (shocked, I know), but it’s Apple so they’re going to take the most flak. But the question of whether or not other manufacturers will follow suit after Apple’s decision is a valid one, because Apple’s a company that makes other companies do crazy things, too.
But here’s the rub: Change is hard, but we’re going to get over this. Together, we’re going to move forward into the future where the 3.5mm headphone jack is a set, universal feature on a select number of products, but has eventually been weeded out of many, many others. Just a matter of time at this point. And there was no way for Apple to prepare us for this eventual reality. It was always going to be, one day, [insert feature/technology here] was just out of the picture entirely.
I’ll be honest here: The biggest surprise to me at this point was that Apple not only included the 3.5mm-to-Lightning adapter in the box, at no extra charge, but that they’re only charging $9 for the adapter as a standalone product, too. An older version of Apple would have made that adapter an exclusive accessory customers had to pay for, not included in the box, and it would’ve cost something like $15 or more, just because.
I wasn’t all that pleased with the decision to drop the 3.5mm headphone jack at first, but, as the leaks and rumors continued for weeks, I eventually realized that it doesn’t impact me all that much. I used the EarPods out of the box by default when I’m out and about, and while I know they don’t sound that great, they get the job done. The Lightning EarPods will do the same thing.
But I do understand that a lot of folks out there aren’t happy about the decision, and the future, where the 3.5mm headphone jack is on the chopping block, isn’t that fantastic. But, just think of it like this: At some point in the (near) future we’re going to look back on last week’s announcement and laugh, because we’ll have forgotten all about that 3.5mm headphone jack.
Or maybe we won’t. What do you think? Are you ready to say goodbye to the 3.5mm headphone jack, or will you never let it go?