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Apple and the Case of the Disappearing Peripherals

written by: •edited by: Tricia Goss•updated: 9/2/2016

Apple’s iPhone 7 release is just around the corner and as is typical for Apple, it looks like they’re removing the use of a loved peripheral in the humble 3.5mm headphone jack. Has Apple gone too far this time or is this par for the course?

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    Apple: Innovator

    Will iPhone 7 Eliminate the Headphone Jack? Apple is perhaps best known for their sleek design aesthetic. No one denies that Apple has some great designers on their team who produce some very sexy looking devices – from the iPhone and MacBook to the Apple Watch and iPad. Unfortunately, the price we pay for nice looking devices sometimes results in loss of functionality.

    As the iPhone 7 release date is quickly approaching, numerous reports and purported pictures of Apple’s latest phone have surfaced showing the lack of a 3.5mm headphone jack. While this is certainly surprising, Apple has had a long history of removing “dated" technology to better serve design and aesthetics. By removing the headphone jack from the iPhone 7, Apple is able to make a very slightly thinner device.

    The idea is that instead of using the headphone jack, users will use a set of Bluetooth (wireless) headphones. If users don’t want to purchase a new set of headphones, they can use the iPhone’s charging port and an adapter to convert the charging port to a 3.5mm jack to utilize existing wired headphones.

    Think about this for a moment. To use an existing set of wired headphones you will need to use an adapter. This adapter will break or it will get lost. Guaranteed! If you don’t have a set of wireless ‘phones, you’re out of luck. What about battery life for Bluetooth headphones? Just what I want to do – worry about whether my headset is charged before heading out for some fresh air.

    All this just to save a few millimeters of thickness? Seeing as the iPhone 6 had some controversy regarding its flexibility, should Apple be trying to make the new iPhone thinner yet?

    I may be calling Apple out for a seemingly boneheaded move, but Apple has shown us in the past they have no love for “dated" technology.

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    Killing off Dated Technology

    Apple has been removing dated or legacy technology for 20 years. In one of its earliest and most notable moves, Apple was one of the first major manufacturers to drop support for the floppy disk drive. People were up in arms at the times – and pretty much any other time Apple has dropped something including VGA ports, DVD drives and Firewire.

    In the past, Apple has dropped this legacy tech to improve the design and aesthetics of their devices. Sure – people were outraged that the floppy disk drive was going the way of the dodo, but the rest of the computer industry soon caught up.

    What is perhaps most upsetting is that Apple seemingly removes legacy tech before users are ready to move on – simply to make nice looking devices. Sure the rest of the computer industry eventually did away with legacy tech such as VGA ports and internal DVD drives, but for every manufacturer that removed the DVD port, there was another manufacturer ready to step in and give consumers choice.

    With Apple removing the choice for users to use their (sometimes expensive) wired headsets, they are putting their own design ahead of user needs. Does anyone really think the existing iPhone models are too thick? Will shaving off a millimeter or two on the new phone really make it that more appealing?

    Sure, Bluetooth is probably the way of future for headphones, but as soon as you move from a wired technology to wireless, there will be drawbacks.

    What are your thoughts on this matter? If Apple does remove the jack, would that make you consider switching to a different phone manufacturer or don’t you mind? Leave your comments below!