Apple Introducing Headphone Connector Via Lightning Instead Of 3.5mm Jack

Apple has added a spec to its MFi (Made-For-iPhone/iPad/iPod) program that allows for a headphone connection via the Lightning port instead of the traditional 3.5mm headphone jack, and the functionality will come via an iOS 7.1 software update.

According to 9to5Mac, the Lightning port will allow headphones to receive lossless stereo 48kHz digital audio streams--as well as a mono 48kHz output, which means that users’ headphones could have a microphone to allow for voice input. Thus, you could ostensibly control the audio (volume up/down, pause/play, and even perhaps app launching).

Beats Lightning
Credit: 9to5Mac

There will be two types of headphones: Standard Lightning Headphones will be simpler and will support the Lightning Headphone Module, while the Advanced Lightning Headphones will add choice features such as noise cancellation and a digital signal processor.

Nothing has been revealed in terms of this development and Apple’s blockbuster Beats acquisition, but it would make sense for Beats to produce the earliest ear cans using the Lightning connector standard.

On the one hand, it’s kind of smart for Apple to introduce technology that can eliminate one port entirely and consolidate more functionality into the single Lightning port; on the other hand, it’s such an Apple thing to do to snub the venerable headphone jack and force anyone making headphones for iOS devices to use the company’s proprietary tech.