September 21, 2021

Depth | With a headphone jack that has been in existence for more than 100 years, how can Apple go down?

Editor's note: For Apple's latest Lightning interface, not everyone can't accept that there is no headphone jack, it would be better to say that everyone can not understand - this invention from the end of the 19th century, has gone deep into all aspects of our lives. Although we all know that Apple must have its reasons for doing so, people are always inclined to want an "objective" statement - such as this article.

This article was compiled by Buzzfeed, Gavin.Z, compiled by Buzzfeed, author John Paczkowski, and may not be reproduced without the permission of Lei Fengwang (search for "Lei Feng Net" public number) .

When Apple's senior vice president Greg Joswiak smiles and raises his white iPhone headset connector, I would like to say that this is the smallest interface I've ever seen. It's only a match stick. iPhone users can use it to connect their own 3.5 mm standard-interface headphones to the new iPhone's Lightning connector. The reason, Apple removed the headset jack on the iPhone 7.

Joswiak jokingly said: "This time we gave each iPhone 7 an adapter." In 2012, Apple removed the widely used 30-pin iPhone connector and replaced it with a lightning connector. People had to buy a $29 transfer interface to continue using the previous accessories, which caused dissatisfaction among many users.

Apple has never been obsessed with removing what people have been using or even enjoying. But removing the headphone jack is not the same. The headphone jack is not like a floppy drive or a 30-pin connector - its history is longer than the computer's history, and the headphone jack is everywhere. Therefore, if Apple intends to kill this industry standard that has lasted for more than a century, it must be thinking twice before proceeding.

Edison is listening to the gramophone through the earphones of the first generation

Getty Images

The earphone jack was invented at the end of the 19th century to allow users to use the telephone exchange, which is one of the oldest electrical standards in existence. The earliest earphone jack standard was 6.35 mm wide, but it was changed to 3.5 mm in the 1960s. This allows almost all electronic audio devices to be equipped with this interface, whether it is home audio, car audio, video cameras, guitar speakers, laptops, aircraft entertainment systems, hearing aids, or smartphones such as the iPhone.

Apple believes that the future of audio devices is wireless, and the world’s perception of mobile audio devices is not only out of date, but it should be abandoned immediately. In a world full of Spotify and Sonos, you can hardly refute this view. But embracing the future also comes at a price: You have to throw away your perfect headphones and buy new wireless headphones from Apple. Apple needs to persuade everyone that it is worth doing.

Joswiak said: “Audio connectors have been around for more than 100 years, and its biggest innovations have been more than 50 years ago. But what's the biggest innovation? It's just that the width has become smaller. Since then, it hasn’t been Change it. To be honest, it is an old antique. It is time to change."

Maybe, but the notion of “when it is not now, when will it wait?” has not been tenable, especially since I still have two fairly high-end headphones on my desk. What's more, all my audio devices have 3.5mm headphone jacks, as well as cars, laptops, last-seat planes, microphones, speakers, baby monitors... audio equipment and accessories purchased at every stage of my life. There are headphone jacks. Headphone jacks are everywhere.

Judging from the past routines, Apple is very good at getting rid of outdated standards, adopting new technologies, and can always bring orders of magnitude higher than the old ones. Many people took Apple's example of abandoning the floppy drive to demonstrate the determination of Apple to abandon widely used standards in order to embrace the future. The problem is that when Apple removes the floppy drive from the iMac, the floppy disk as a storage solution has become very outdated. Everyone knows that it should be replaced.

The 3.5 mm headphone jack is neither out of date nor necessary for immediate replacement.

Indeed, the headset jack has existed for a long time, but it is widely accepted by the industry and there are no patent restrictions. Manufacturers can use this standard without paying. The signal transmitted by the headphone jack does not need to be decoded. And because the headphone jack is analog, not a digital standard, it will not be limited by digital rights management.

Just like the AC power slot on the wall, the headphone jack is a dumb interface. In the words of Apple, it is "it just works." Just buy a pair of headphones and you can plug headphones into the headphone jack and listen to whatever you want to hear. Why do you need to get rid of the headphone jack?

iPhone 3.5 mm Headphone Jack

Fixit /

According to Dan Riccio, Apple’s senior vice president of hardware engineering, the iPhone’s 3.5-mm headphone jack is like a last couple of months of getting married: familiar and comfortable, but in the end everyone will have to move towards better life. He said: "This connector, which has been in existence for more than 50 years, is an empty space that occupies an extremely valuable space in the iPhone."

Riccio has been with Apple since 1998 and has handled most of Apple's hardware development work. He endorsed Apple's wireless theory:

"In a world full of mobile and communication connections, it's not surprising that there is a line hanging from people's ears to the phone."

“We have a lot of things that we want to put on the iPhone, but they are blocked by the space occupied by the headphone jack. It grabs space with cameras, processors and batteries. Frankly, there are better modern solutions. It's crazy to keep it."

It's hard to imagine Apple’s hardware design team being crazy about the headphone jack. But for very tight internal computing devices such as the iPhone, they certainly face numerous challenges when designing hardware. Riccio spent 15 minutes to explain these challenges, and I sum them up as follows.

One of the main features of the iPhone 7 is the improved camera system, which is now larger than previous generations of iPhones. The iPhone 7 now has an optical image stabilization feature that was originally intended for iPhone 7 Plus. The iPhone 7 Plus has two side-by-side camera systems, one with a fixed wide-angle lens and the other with a 2x telephoto zoom lens. At the top of the new iPhone is the driver ledge, a small circuit board that drives the iPhone display and flash. In the past, Apple put it here in order to accommodate the battery, but this will conflict with the new camera system of the iPhone 7, so Apple lowered the position of the drive, but it will be with other parts (especially the headphone jack) conflict.

So, Apple's engineers tried to remove the headphone jack.

In the process of trying, they found something. First, it is easier to install the "tactile engine" that drives the iPhone 7's new Home button. The iPhone 7's new Home button is just like the trackpad trackpad on the new MacBook. It can vibrate to simulate clicks (rather than actually making a click). The haptic engine's vibrations can also be used to convey tactile notifications, such as reaching the bottom of a sliding page. Apple has provided developers with APIs for this feature.

Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president, explained: “We will not bring about drastic changes, but this level of change can also allow you to do a lot of things. Each time we change will have something that will surprise you once you start using it. They will understand the meaning of these changes. This is the case with haptic engine APIs, which will bring experiences far beyond your imagination and will change the experience of many applications. Don't believe you wait and see."

Second, removing the headphone jack greatly improves battery life . The iPhone 7's battery is 14% larger than the previous generation, and the iPhone 7 Plus's battery is 5% larger than the previous generation. This increased the endurance of the two iPhones by 2 hours and 1 hour, respectively. Worse improvements.

More importantly, removing the headphone jack finally allowed the new iPhone to reach the IP7 waterproof rating . The IP7 waterproof rating allows the new iPhone to be placed in 1 meter deep water for 30 minutes without damage, which is Apple’s goal for many years.

The 3.5mm headphone jack is now on the road to demise. Even if it weren’t for the iPhone 7 that removed the headset jack, the iPhone 8 would do so sooner or later—in the final analysis, it was all Apple's trade-offs. Either keep the headphone jack, or use it for the future of wireless audio, the new camera system, and any waterproof features that anyone who once dropped the iPhone into the toilet wanted.

When you think of the iPhone, you may think it is a simple little device. Therefore, we review the history and help us realize that the iPhone actually includes many accessories that are different from the previous ones. When Steve Jobs first introduced the iPhone in 2007, he said that the iPhone is not a device, but three "multi-touch widescreen music players, a revolutionary mobile phone, a breakthrough. Internet communication equipment."

It turns out that people are most concerned about the characteristics of high-end smart phones are cameras . Apple is high-end, so it is willing to spend millions of dollars on advertising to remind users of its advantage of subverting decades of industry standards.

When Schiller discovered that the iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, and the previous iPhone 6s had the same 12-megapixel camera, he said that the "iphone 7's" peer-to-peer system had a tremendous leap in comparison to the iphone 6s. He quickly said a series of high-end configuration specifications to prove his point of view iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus take pictures faster, spotlight better, have low power consumption chipsets, and a series of leading the future, amazing Accessories. Many of them are difficult to surpass: Apple's product launch Wednesday, there is a slide dedicated to proudly introduce a new image signal processing capabilities, for example, can calculate 100 billion times every 25 milliseconds. But when I saw a picture of an untouched Coney Island taken from high altitude, I only knew how powerful they were. It's hard to believe that this photo was taken with a cell phone.

Neil Baram is the founder and CEO of Filmic, the IOS video software partner. He said "the performance of the new generation of iphone phones is super-strong." He does not praise the new generation of iphone. He said that Apple's new A10 chip is a shock to the improvement of Apple's mobile video processing capabilities. He joked that although Stanley Kubrick (a famous American director) admitted that he may not use the iPhone to shoot "Bari Linden," he is likely to have fallen in love with the iPhone 7 Plus.

Baram said: "In my opinion, the former iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus are like a sprinter, and they can complete many tasks in a very short period of time. The iPhone 7 is more like a marathoner. It can even be said that triathlon players can run under high-intensity load all day."

Image: iphone 7 Plus 2x optical zoom source: Apple Inc.

In a small vineyard in the Santa Cruz Mountains, which is much higher than Silicon Valley, we performed a brief camera function demonstration. Panoramic shots, character modes, photos of life, close-ups, shooting a video: The vineyard dog walks slowly toward us with a tennis ball. For me as a non-professional photographer, everything is very good. The picture is clear and bright. The wide-angle color capture feature of the iPhone makes California Poppy's orange look a little psychedelic. Two side-by-side cameras on the iPhone 7 Plus can also be seamlessly switched. The conversion between the wide-angle lens and the telephoto lens is fast and smooth, and the user cannot notice at all and feels like a lens. Because of zoom photography, I hardly see the edge line that glues the red wine label to the bottle.

In the next few months, Apple will update a series of software to add new camera features to the iPhone 7 Plus. This feature is called "person shooting" and is mainly capable of background blurring. Bokeh is to make the depth of field shallower, so that the focus on the theme. Because the iPhone 7 Plus's two cameras can run at the same time, they can capture nine layers of depth from the foreground to the back ground, and they can play in real time. So when you take a picture of a person, you can see the effect of bokeh. The key is that you can decide to save it after you see it. As Schiller said before, “Is the background blur effect of the iPhone better than Leica M's and the 50mm lens? Of course not. But have you ever seen any smart phone that can shoot like this?”

Certainly not.

Although Apple CEO Tim Cook thinks that the iPhone's changes are quite large this year, the upcoming camera changes are not exactly what we expect from Apple's mobile phone construction changes. When I asked him - after a series of structural innovations such as video chat, voice control features and fingerprinting - whether we had reached a point of exhaustion in innovation on smartphones, he vehemently rejected the premise of my question.

Cook said: "Innovation is getting better. If you think about it, look at what is most important to iPhone users, you will find that they are shooting pictures and applications that can record their daily life. So we update the camera , Optimize software, increase battery life. Will all these be reflected in IOS 10? These changes add up to a very big improvement.

Earlier this year, there were rumors that Apple would cancel the headphone jack on the next-generation iPhone. Someone supported the opposition. This was expected. The products released at the conference are also the same as predicted. (Although two smart phone manufacturers have previously released smart phones without jacks.)

Some critics say that mobile phone jacks are good for playing audio, can be widely used, and are not limited by patents and digital rights management. Why do you want to remove the mobile phone jack and replace it with a digital interface that is only copyrighted by Apple? This will be locked in due to the digital rights management system in the future. In 2007, Jobs felt sorry for his article entitled "Reflections on Music." The small headphone jack adapter is easily lost, so why would I have to pay $9 to replace it with a wired headset? Why does it allow me to play music? Whether it's a copy protection error or an error caused by "Apple does not support this accessory?" Some people regard the removal of mobile phone jacks as an enemy of users. How does Apple respond to this criticism?

"That is a purely paranoid conspiracy theory."

Schiller thinks this kind of speech is stupid. “Some people think that there is an unclear motive behind this move, or that it will introduce some new forms of content management. This idea is wrong.” He said, “We removed the headphone jack because we found better audio playback. This approach has nothing to do with content management and digital rights management - it is indeed a pure, almost paranoid conspiracy theory."

Why on earth? USB audio was copy protected in the mid-2000s, and according to Abdul Ismail, chief engineer of the USB-IF CTO and Intel, folks in the recording industry did not like the headphone jack. He said that “audio content owners will be more relaxed when they don’t need copy protection. Since iTunes started selling music that is not protected by DRM, it’s been nearly 10 years since now. Illegal file sharing is also awkward.”

In addition, lightning interfaces are also an easy way to solve high-quality audio. Because this is a charging interface, it can support functions such as noise cancellation in headphones that require batteries, and because it is digital, it can provide granular control in terms of frequency response and other aspects (Audeze made a pair of lightning interface headsets, which have 10-band equalizer, -10 to +10 dB per ear).

But this is not Apple's point of view. Remember that future audio is radio. And although the company may have a pair of Lightning headphones (and an adapter) for every iPhone 7 owner, what it really wants is for customers to buy a pair of wireless headphones Airpods.

Apple's latest wireless headset source: Apple Inc.

John Ternus, Apple’s vice president of Mac, iPad, Ecosystem and Audio Engineering, said, “It's hard to believe that we can put in so much stuff into it. We have created a lot of products that contain technology, but this time these products are absolutely The most high-tech products, there is no waste in the product. Nothing at all."

Terus refers to Apple's latest wireless headset, the Airpod, and this morning I found out that this is no exaggeration based on the perspective. Inside each Airpod, there is an Apple W1 wireless chip (first introduced by Apple), two accelerators, two light sensors, two bunched microphones, one antenna, and an incredibly small battery that can supply power for five hours ( Note: Two hours of talk time). If you use a small lightning interface charging box, you can charge it for 15 minutes and you can use it for 3 hours. (Ternus said, "We are very focused on battery efficiency and can be said to be almost crazy.")

But what about it? This sounds great. But this is what it should achieve because after the product was launched in late October, Apple wanted to sell it for $159.

They use a very user-friendly, no-button design that requires a double click. Siri can control switching songs or making phone calls. And the way they are matched to the iPhone is also very simple and intuitive. Once you match your Airpods with your iPhone, Apple can use your iCloud account to match them with your other Apple devices. If there is any bond that can get them out of each other, it is wireless. And they can match any device running IOS 10, Watch OS 3 or MacOS Sierra.

Airpods use a Bluetooth connection. Bluetooth headsets have been plagued by a series of connection problems: troublesome pairing problems, connection loss problems, and poor sound quality. Apple is very confident. With the W1 chip, they believe that all these problems have been solved. Ternus said, “As you can imagine, we can do a lot of amazing things by developing our own Bluetooth chip and controlling the paired terminals. We use Bluetooth connectivity, but we have a lot of secret weapons.”

What the secret weapon is, Apple will not say. However, Airpods has been developed for some time. Schiller said, "These are as advanced as Apple Pencil. We started this project when we started the Watch project. We knew we needed to find a good wireless solution for audio. We said, 'If you can design future headphones What does it look like?” And that's what we asked our team to do.”

All promises: sound quality, stable Bluetooth connectivity, battery life, voice control, easy match between devices, complete wireless - if all of these are successful then they will be more valuable than the most expensive wired headsets. But it also depends on Apple's sales, convincing consumers that they really need them. This is difficult but not impossible. (Translator's Note: Airpods can match non-Apple devices. But there is no mysterious configuration.)

Put the Airpods back in the charging case that is the size of the dental floss storage box. They are like they are in the cradle. The cradle can gently emit a magnetic click. A green light flashes. It reminded me of the 12-year-old little toy man in my heart, the Micronaut toy man who had been magnetized on all fours. He could make a similar noise - shouting "Badass". This kind of blurt out of the mouth is somewhat unintentional, but it is by default that Apple is still good at evoking amazing things, and it is also an appropriate expression of the high technology that I see.

I know an iPhone user who loves playing premium speakers. He spent a large sum of money on high-end headphones over the past few years. A few days ago he told me that if the next-generation iphone still had an earphone jack and there was an Android phone to start with, he would change his phone. He doesn't want a lightning connector for headphones or wireless headsets. And he doesn't want to carry an adapter. He just wants to use his favorite headphones. And he thinks he is not the only one who thinks so. How should Apple's leadership respond to those who have this need?

Schiller said, "For those who like their own wired headset, this change is a bit difficult, I can understand. But this change is inevitable. At some point, you must do this. Headphone jack sooner or later To remove it, there are too many reasons to explain the removal of the headphone jack.Every transition will be a little painful, but we can't stay the same. If we stick to the rules, then we will not improve. Every time we change, we will ask ourselves This question: Have we taken all actions to ease the pain and explain the reasons for the changes. Can we make everyone satisfied when we change? We think we have done it."

And this is a very reasonable answer. Remember, the iPhone 7 will come with Lightning headphones and adapters. The adapter is for those who do not want to give up their existing headset. Although the price of 159 US dollars will make some people feel a little bit painful, but Apple's Airpods wireless audio is indeed very interesting, and give up the audio jack to save space can make the iphone camera and battery have much room for improvement .

Inevitably, critics will say that the iphone 7 has broken the laws that Apple has made major updates in even-numbered years, but the complete rearrangement of the internal structure of these devices may be preparing for other things. 2017 is the 10th anniversary of the release of the iPhone. Some Apple enthusiasts believe that the company is already making more changes.

At the same time, Apple must find the right direction for the transition of the headset jack.

Schiller said: "Remember, we have experienced many changes before. We removed the parallel port, serial bus, floppy disk drive, physical keyboard - do you miss the physical keyboard on the phone? ... At some point - At some point in the future, I think - we will all recall our fanaticism about the headphone jack. But we would think, what's the big deal about it?"

Via buzzfeed

Recommended reading:

Maybe, soon you will forget that the iPhone used to have an interface called 3.5mm headphone port

How does the iPhone 7 cancel the 3.5mm interface affect the headset industry?

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