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Apple has revealed a new Lightning module for headphones

During a WWDC session earlier this week, Apple revealed a new Lightning module for headphones that promises to provide deeper system controls, direct analog audio out and power to compatible accessories. Unlike the ubiquitous 3.5mm jack used in modern portable audio devices, the new Lightning headphone module offers a number of advantages to third-party accessory makers, Apple said during the “Designing Accessories for iOS and OS X” session on Tuesday. According to Apple’s manager of platform accessories Robert Walsh, the new Lightning headphone module connects directly into an iOS device’s Lightning port, breaking out analog audio. 

Pretty soon, you may be plugging new headphones into the iPhone’s Lightning port. Apple is reportedly expanding its Made for iPhone program with new terms that allow manufacturers to make headphones that link with iOS devices via the small connector— first introduced with the iPhone 5 in 2012. 9to5Mac claims that Apple will add support for Lightning headphones in an upcoming iOS firmware update. The company has a history of doing away with dated components (i.e. the 30-pin dock connector), but eliminating the headphone jack would be a drastic step even for Cupertino. It’d be another way for Apple to achieve consumer lock-in, but aside from that, it’s hard to come up with obvious or practical benefits to such a change. 9to5Mac suggests that the new specifications could allow your iPhone to power accessories that ordinarily require a built-in battery, like noise-cancelling headphones or even small, portable speakers. But this would cut into your phone or iPad’s longevity, so why bother? Barring some sort of pass through technique (or iPhones gaining wireless charging), it’d be an odd path for Apple or third-party OEMs to pursue.

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Written by Chastity Mansfield

I'm a writer, an amateur designer, and a collector of trinkets that nobody else wants. You can find me on Noozeez, and Twitter.

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