Woz Says, “Just say No”

According to reports from Fortune, Woz hates the idea of an iPhone without a headphone jack…

headphone jack

Get ready… it’s coming, yet again. Can you hear it? It’s getting closer!

Change! Change is coming!!

I remember back before the Lighting connector was introduced with Apple’s iPhone 5. The entire world lost its mind every time Apple would make changes to its proprietary 30 pin connector; and it happened often enough between the release of the 3rd generation iPod in 2003 and the release of the Lightning connector nearly four (4) years ago in September of 2012 that the wounds are still fresh. Changes to the connector meant charging cables, cradles and other accessories wouldn’t work with the newer devices, requiring you to not only shoulder the expense for the new device, but for all new speaker, sync and charging accessories as well.

It made owning an iPod risky; and it made buying a new one all that more expensive.

Since the introduction of the Lightning port with the iPhone 5 in 2012, Apple’s connector hasn’t changed. Lightning cables are still Lightning cables, and they’re still somewhat expensive; but the cable still does everything that its 30-pin predecessor does and more.

This year, Apple isn’t targeting its sync connector for change. Its targeting something that’s a bit more fundamental – the 3.5mm headphone jack.

Over the past six to eight months, there have been consistent rumors regarding Apple removing the 3.5mm headphone jack from their flagship iPhone and in its place, putting an additional stereo speaker. Audio would be pumped through either the device’s stereo speakers, the audio channel in the Lighting port or through Bluetooth.

The proposed change has proven to be very controversial. The jack dates back to 1878 (yes..! as in the 19th century!). Back then the jack was 1/4 ” (6.35mm) long and used by telephone operators to connect calls from one circuit to another. Later, the jack was shrunk to 3.5mm. It’s gone through a few different revisions for both improved mono and later stereo sound. However, except for those small changes, the technology has gone largely unmodified during its 138 years (yeah… nearly 150 YEARS) of active, wide spread use.

The issue here is that EVERY set of (wired) headphones in use today from Apple’s Ear Pods and the junky jell-based earbuds you find at Wal-Mart to the top of the line Beats Headset and Bose over the ear headphones make use of the 3.5mm headphone jack; AND it’s considered by many to be the preferred method of connecting to a music player.

Case in point – according to an article published in Fortune, even Apple co-founder, Steve Wozniack prefers to use the headphone jack in his iPhone to listen to music over a Bluetooth connection.

The problem..? Bluetooth Audio sucks… and Woz is painfully familiar with it, as is just about everybody else that makes use of any kind of wireless audio connection. The dynamic range is suboptimal and the audio can often sound muddy. According to the Fortune article,

Still, that’s not enough for Woz. In his interview, the Apple co-founder said that transmitting audio over Bluetooth isn’t good enough for those, like him, who want better fidelity.

“I would not use Bluetooth … I don’t like wireless,” he said. “I have cars where you can plug in the music, or go through Bluetooth, and Bluetooth just sounds so flat for the same music.”

Pulling out the headphone jack in the iPhone 7 will likely affect every iPhone user. Many audiophiles don’t use wireless headsets yet because fidelity just isn’t there yet. The mid-range is too strong, the bass can often become muddy when its adjusted “too” high, and the high end is often flat, though experiences often greatly differ from headset to headset, external speaker, to external speaker.

Sound quality from Bluetooth-based accessories greatly improved over the last few years. There has also been a great influx of wireless audio accessories on store shelves. Apple doesn’t sell an Apple-branded set of wireless headphones. Instead, the company offers Bluetooth-based headphones through its Beats brand, which it acquired in 2014 for $3 billion USD. In fact, Beats sells several wireless earbuds and headphones that work well with an iPhone without a headphone jack.

While many who exercise (run, walk or some other solitary workout) often do so to music, they often find that the wired cord of their headsets often get in the way. Exercising and fitness have become one of the hottest catered activities and Apple is aligning both the iPhone and the Apple Watch to address this popular trend. That’s why they appear to be interested in removing the headphone jack.

The iPhone 7 is currently anticipated to be announced early next month, sometime during the first full week of September 2016. Unfortunately, Apple is one of the most secretive companies in the world, and it is unclear if the next iPhone will arrive during an anticipated, late September delivery date with or without the 138 year old headphone jack.

Will you be in the market for a new iPhone this year? Does the prospect of Apple removing the 3.5mm headphone jack appeal to you or do you feel this is a mistake? Does Bluetooth audio work well for you? Do you own a set of wireless headphones that you’re happy with, or do you use them in wired mode, instead?

I’d love to hear from you on this. Why don’t you meet me in the Discussion area, below and tell me what you think?

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