How Apple should’ve eliminated the Audio Jack!


It created a lot of chaos and trolls when Apple removed the Audio Jack. It is hard to get rid of a port which has been a standard for over a century. And yes, it took courage. But this is what big companies are supposed to do : pioneer new trends in the industry!

This is what Apple was always known for. For being unapologetic about their decisions against all critics. Be it the elimination of the physical keyboard on phones, optical disk drives, flash support etc. Time and time they were proven right, and the Apple standard became the industry standard. And this was because they did it RIGHT, Steve Jobs did it right! But I am afraid this time Apple didn’t quite play the right symphony on it’s magic pipe.

They forgot : Lightning Port can Output HI-FI Sound Quality

sdwtnrmikidwu2eqvgaa.jpgFor years, the audio jack provided a way for directing your phone amplifier’s output to an external device. That way you pay for only one amplifier and have it run your phone’s speaker as well all your peripherals. But now you’ll have to pay for an additional amplifier. This is basically why Bluetooth headphones are so expensive compared to wired headphones of the same output.

Now sure, you can use the included adaptor which is admittedly not an elegant solution. But there is a silver lining here.

Companies like Apple have the power to make the people more aware about certain part of technology. And the fact that the consumer would now be aware that they will have to buy a separate DAC, will educate them about a key component which influences the Sound Quality.

This new mainstream knowledge could catapult a trend of investing in a good DAC. Let this be clear : the DAC on our phones generally suck. And once again you might see a rise in the average sound quality we listen to. Ever since humans went mobile, they have been compromising for a poor DAC.

But Apple didn’t really inspire this trend by releasing a range of high quality DACs that can plug inline with your headphones. This devices would also mean I won’t have to throw out my existing Headphones just yet.

Though you might argue : All this DAC talk is perhaps too complicated and  Apple thrives on simplicity. Apple decided to inspire a different trend : Wireless Headphones. But this doesn’t help the cause. Music is pushed through bluetooth, not WiFi. Sound Quality? What is that?

Won’t Inspire Masses to Spend on Wireless

AirPods.jpgNow consider this : Will Apple successfully inspire the masses to spend the extra bucks to go wireless?

I am skeptical because wireless earphones have been around since a decade, and yet wired headphones are still more popular. In fact, Apple confirmed this fact in it’s Keynote when they said Apple Earpods are the most popular. Simply put Wireless is not enough to convince the masses to spend the extra buck.

Apart from not highlighting the possible boost in Sound Quality,  Apple further fails to fuel this trend by releasing a lazily designed Airpods that looks like Earpod with wires cut out. The design has been infamous and I wonder till when can Apple expect people to buy it’s products just for the Apple Brand.

Lack of Software Support from Apple

Steve Jobs’ symphonies commanded complete control on the listener : end-to-end. Last year, Apple released it’s lightning port designs to allow manufacturers build Lightning Headphones. So obviously, I was expecting Apple would atleast have the Apple Music feature Lossless uncompressed Music .

(In case you didn’t know : iTunes and every music streaming service (except, Tidal) provides a 5 times compressed version of the original recordings. MP3s was a devil in disguise, indeed.)

But Apple didn’t care to create a Software  Infrastructure that truly justifies the High Technology in these Headphones. The fact that Apple Music is available on Android, could’ve actually educated people enough to ditch the Audio Jack and play instead via the USB port. Woah!

iPhone’s new Audio Port is not Universal

4297.jpgSo let’s assume people continue to buy Wired headphones. Say, a person buys an awesome High Fidelity Headphones that draws high quality input from iPhone’s lightning connector. The Headphone will carry a high quality dedicated DAC-Amplifier specifically tuned for it. Awesome Quality, am I right? Probably yes, but for these I will have to sacrifice the ability to plug it to any other device.

“Hey Apple, don’t expect me to buy devices with a Lightning port. Fuck, there’s NONE.” As a person who has invested in quality earphones, when I buy one I atleast expect to plug it on a variety of my devices : for me it’s Laptop, DVD Player, Guitar Amp, etc. Today, if I buy a Lightning Headphones, I can’t even plug it to a Macbook. The only solution being Adaptors. That’s just SAD.

This makes me wonder why Apple didn’t go for USB Type C : A port which even Apple is embracing on it’s Macs.

And it should Sound like….

Steve Jobs’ Apple was about showing the route to that future., not showcasing products that looks like they have travelled backwards in time. And your money…. well, it bought the Ticket To Ride. Which route I wanna travel?

Route 1 : Apple could’ve walked on the lines of it’s competitors, kept the Audio Jack and provided a High Fidelity output with atleast a 24-bit DAC like HTC, LG, ZTE, etc.

Route 2 : Deliver Lossless Audio to wireless Headphones while popularising the benefit of a much better Sound Quality. This is for the general masses.

Route 3 : This should actually be implemented along with Route 2. Deliver Lossless Audio through Apple Music via a USB Type C, and inspire a range of inline HiFi DACs compatible cross platform. This is for the audiophile.

But what if you wanna listen to music on your wired headphones while charging? I don’t know… Buy an Adaptor!



Author: Abhishek Agarwal

"My most clear memories are those of the moments which seemed to cause a cognitive development in me."

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