Tuesday Talk ~ Jack brouhaha

If Apple didn't change things, where would we be now?
If Apple didn’t change things, where would we be now?

Even though it was widely speculated upon, and even though many other smartphone makers have stopped producing phones with 3.5mm headphone jacks, Apple’s deletion of them caused consternation, even distress. Apple wasn’t even first – other brands have done this, or want to.

A few people have told me ‘That’s it!’ with Apple. I tell them ‘Fair enough, the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 is pretty hot right now …’ No, but seriously. Yes, it’s annoying. A little annoying. Of course, you can already get a  dongle that lets you charge your iPhone 7 while listening to music, thanks to Belkin (other brands will be sure to follow). This costs $59 Australian, but it will appear in New Zealand. But when you really think about it, how often do you actually charge your iPhone while listening to music? Some will do this, but me, I’ve only done it maybe twice in two years.

So, why did Apple do it? Just to upset you … or that’s what the schadenfreude industry would have you believe. This is a large group of PC-loving Android fans who hope and pray every day for a sign that Apple has done something bad, or made a mistake. This crowd has been gleefully flagellating Apple ever since the iPhone 7 announcements. Luckily, its audience is mostly people who already hate Apple anyway. They won’t let truth stand in the way of a good story.
But Apple has a long history of changing connectors – remember all the whining about the iDevice 32-pin cable being changed for the Lightning? A few years on, I look back at those big, clunky, easily damaged 32-connectors and shudder. Don’t you? In the dark or in a hurry, you were continually trying to put the cable in wrong way up. The Lightning is smarter, smaller, and can go in either way up. Thank goodness. What’s better is, it meant Apple could slim and lighten the iPhone even further – this is almost always a good thing.
Apple has done this before, ditching the serial port on its computers for USB (oh, the outcry! Now, who’d go back? Pretty much every computer on the planet now uses USB.)
Even when Apple ditched the fragile, slow, clunky floppy drive in Macs there was consternation. Those things were bloody terrible.

OK, so why? There had to be a good reason. A 3.5mm plug is analogue. Sound has to be analogue eventually, since our ears are analogue: they react to sound pressure and volume, not to digital signals. At some point, music has to be turned into sound pressure and volume otherwise we can’t hear it.
The crux of the matter is at which point this happens. If it’s happening at your ears, instead of at the connector, quality should be better (although the jury’s out on how good wireless audio is over Bluetooth, as in the case of Apple’s EarPods –I haven’t tried them yet). But having a digital, rather than analogue, jack means headphone manufacturers can create better ’phones that sound better, and can enable features like noise cancelling.

A few might ditch Apple over this. I doubt many will – it’s a pretty minor detail in the big scheme of things. Two years on, we’ll barely remember it. But it does make you wonder what audio port might be fitted to the new MacBook Pro (still to be announced).

Apple makes changes to hardware to make things better. If Apple never changed hardware, where would we be now? Remember the NORAD computer? It would have coordinated the US response to missiles launched from, supposedly, Russia. This was a huge computer complex. The iPhone 4 surpassed this in power …

Meanwhile, the real iPhone fiends might be waiting till next year anyway: it will be the 10th anniversary of the iPhone introduction, so they’re hoping for a really amazing iPhone 8 to mark the occasion.  Those who do get 7s will shortly be staggered by its amazing cameras.

Me, I’m looking forward to seeing what a 7 can do.


2 thoughts on “Tuesday Talk ~ Jack brouhaha”

  1. Re. Jack Brouhaha – I want to conveniently (no easily detachable dongle adapter causing an iPhone and headphones to part, potentially causing damage!) continue to use my wired headphones. B&W P7 at home, a Sony noise cancelling pair when mobile, which is often. I regularly charge my – 6S Plus with a power brick. So I need to listen and charge simultaneously. I place a premium on audio quality. Bluetooth is poor quality compared to wired. Wireless aptX is almost good enough, but needs further improvement before I would use it. There is a wireless P7 with aptX, but this is not a format supported by Apple in their iPads and iPhone, although Macs can use it. The closed garden silo again. Therefore, using a wireless P7 with the iPhone 7 would mean suffering standard Bluetooth. As far as where the DAC is located, I fail to see how that could produce “better” sound. This oft-repeated assertion is a misleading canard, like drinking 6-8 glasses of water daily. Your bulletins are somewhat one-sided. You can do better, Mark, boosting your readership and mana.


    1. Thanks Ken. I’d rather criticise Apple for genuine concerns like tax avoidance and failure to support the NZ Consumer Guarantees Act properly. The market always gives you a choice. This site, mac-nz.com, is clearly a blog about Apple, not a wide ranging tech site comparing brands and models to each other, so in my opinion I don’t need to ‘do better’. I just provide information to people using Apple products. I don’t have the resources and financing to do anything more anyway – this is a gratis venture provided by me, not a money-making venture, and I have no sponsorship beyond a few ad sales. I’m certainly not a mouthpiece for Apple, I’ve never worked for Apple, Apple doesn’t pay me anything (and never has paid me anything) and I don’t get free stuff, so go figure.


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