Rumours about wireless earphones or headphones from Apple were making the rounds as early as 2014, but nothing was as definite until July this year. Since the big announcement by the California based company on Wednesday, the internet has been agog with comments and speculations racing down every inch of the bandwidth. Many of the comments have dwelt on the dangers and hazards surrounding the airpods, as they are known, while most of them have been mostly nostalgic in calling for a return to the wired versions.
Why Apple had to do away with the earphone jack
Apple is not a stranger to breaking the norm and doing away with conventionally accepted hardware. A million years ago now, Apple spearheaded the death of the Floppy disk and even CD-ROM tech, eliminated the need for keypads and reinvented the sleek approach to the smartphone. This is a company focused on pushing the boundary on what is obtainable in search for a special brand of excellence, and now its sights are on the earphone jack.
Apple gives three major reasons for doing away with the conventional earphone jack:
It takes too much space: The 3.5mm space taken up by the earphone jack is a factor limiting the sleekness or slimness to which the design team can take the iPhone. By phasing it away, one can expect the next generation iPhones to be a lot thinner than before.
More space for a larger battery: still dealing with space, apparently we have the earphone jack to blame for taking all the space that will have served for a larger battery all this while. By extending up to 15mm into the phone, the jack takes up space that will otherwise be used to fit a larger battery.
New tech: Apple cannot even deny that part of the reason for phasing out the 3.5mm phone jack was just in keeping up with their image as innovators. According to Apple Senior VP Phil Schiller, Apple did this because of “courage” and the need to move on.
Public opinion on every new development from Apple has always been varied and frankly, loud. This time however, social media comments on the airpods have been falling majorly in the fear category, rather than praise. “They are so easy to misplace” is a common comment, based likely on the small nature of the airpods as compared to their wired equivalents. Another is that they are a choking hazard for children. According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), the airpods meet the criteria of their Product Safety Choke Check, indicating they have the potential ability to block the throats of little children who accidentally swallow them.
Apple has ridden many a storm when it comes to their innovative products and it is very likely they are in for another this time. Critical analysis published two days ago on Wired, after the Apple Hands-on display for journalists and critics, attacks the sound quality of the new device as well as its looks and the span of its battery life (only 5 hours). For a lot of people the major benefit of the analog earphones was its infallibility – having to recharge the airpods before playing your music could be a major setback, especially if Apple is still considering proper penetration of the third world market.
What this means for the future
Wireless earphones have been around for a long time, the headphones most especially. What’s new is the elimination of choice with the phasing out of the earphone jack from the new iPhones. If the usual trend holds through, other smartphone manufacturers would soon be following suit. The world of wireless connectivity just took another leap closer with this from Apple. Your move, Samsung.