Архив метки: USB

Two years later, I still miss the headphone port

Two years ago, Apple killed the headphone port. I still haven’t forgiven them for it.
When Apple announced that the iPhone 7 would have no headphone port, I was pretty immediately annoyed. I figured maybe I’d get over it in a few months. I didn’t. I figured if worse came to worse, I’d switch platforms. Then all of the other manufacturers started following suit.
This, of course, isn’t a new annoyance for me. I’ve been hating headphone adapters on phones right here on this very website since two thousand and nine. For a little stretch there, though, I got my way.
It was a world full of dongles and crappy proprietary audio ports. Sony Ericsson had the FastPort. Nokia had the Pop-Port. Samsung had like 10 different ports that no one gave a shit about. No single phone maker had claimed the throne yet, so no one port had really become ubiquitous… but every manufacturer wanted their port to become the port. Even the phones that had a standardized audio jack mostly had the smaller 2.5mm port, requiring an adapter all the same.

Then came the original iPhone with its 3.5mm headphone port. It was a weird recessed 3.5mm port that didn’t work with most headphones, but it was a 3.5mm port! Apple was riding on the success of the iPod, and people were referring to this rumored device as the iPod Phone before it was even announced. How could something like that not have a headphone port?
Sales of the iPhone started to climb. A few million in 2007. Nearly 12 million in 2008. 20 million in 2009. A tide shifted. As Apple’s little slab of glass took over the smartphone world, other manufacturers tried to figure out what Apple was doing so right. The smartphone market, once filled with chunky, button-covered plastic beasts (this one slides! This one spins!), homogenized. Release by release, everything started looking more like the iPhone. A slab of glass. Premium materials. Minimal physical buttons. And, of course, a headphone port.
Within a couple years, a standard headphone port wasn’t just a nice selling point — it was mandatory. We’d entered a wonderful age of being able to use your wired headphones whenever you damn well pleased.
Then came September 7th, 2016, when Apple had the “courage” to announce it was ditching the 3.5mm jack (oh and also by the way check out these new $150 wireless headphones!).
Apple wasn’t the first to ditch the headphone port — but, just as with its decision to include one, its decision to remove it has turned the tide. A few months after the portless iPhone 7 was announced, Xiaomi nixed the port on the Mi 6. Then Google ditched it from its flagship Android phone, the Pixel 3. Even Samsung, which lampooned Apple for the decision, seems to be tinkering with the idea of dropping it. Though leaks suggest the upcoming Galaxy S10 will have a headphone port, the company pulled it from the mid-range A8 line earlier this year. If 2016 was the year Apple took a stab at the headphone jack, 2018 was the year it bled out.
And I’m still mad about it.
Technology comes and goes, and oh-so-often at Apple’s doing. Ditching the CD drive in laptops? That’s okay — CDs were doomed, and they were pretty awful to begin with. Killing Flash? Flash sucked. Switching one type of USB port for another? Fine, I suppose. The new USB is better in just about every way. At the very least, I won’t try to plug it in upside down only to flip it over and realize I had it right the first time.
But the headphone jack? It was fine. It stood the test of time for one hundred damned years, and with good reason: It. Just. Worked.
I’ve been trying to figure out why the removal of the headphone port bugs me more than other ports that have been unceremoniously killed off, and I think it’s because the headphone port almost always only made me happy. Using the headphone port meant listening to my favorite album, or using a free minute to catch the latest episode of a show, or passing an earbud to a friend to share some new tune. It enabled happy moments and never got in the way.
Now every time I want to use my headphones, I just find myself annoyed.
Bluetooth? Whoops, forgot to charge them. Or whoops, they’re trying to pair with my laptop even though my laptop is turned off and in my backpack.
Dongle? Whoops, left it on my other pair of headphones at work. Or whoops, it fell off somewhere, and now I’ve got to go buy another one.

I’ll just buy a bunch of dongles, and put them on all my headphones! I’ll keep extras in my bag for when I need to borrow a pair of headphones. That’s just like five dongles at this point, problem solved! Oh, wait: now I want to listen to music while I fall asleep, but also charge my phone so it’s not dead in the morning. That’s a different, more expensive splitter dongle (many of which, I’ve found, are poorly made garbage).
None of these are that big of a deal. Charge your damned headphones, Greg. Stop losing your dongles. The thing is: they took a thing that just worked and just made me happy and replaced it with something that, quite often, just bugs the hell out of me. If a friend sent me a YouTube link and I wanted to watch it without bugging everyone around me, I could just use whatever crappy, worn out headphones I happened to have sitting in my bag. Now it’s a process with a bunch of potential points of failure.
“But now its water resistant!” Water-resistant phones existed before all of this, plenty of which had/have headphone ports. As a recent example, see Samsung’s Galaxy S9 with its IP68 rating (matching that of the iPhone XS.)
“But it can be slimmer!” No one was asking for that.
“But the batteries inside can be bigger!” The capacity of the battery barely jumped in the years from the 6S to the 8 — from 1,715mAh to 1,821mAh. It wasn’t until a few years later with the iPhone X, when the standard iPhone started getting wider and taller, that we saw super big jumps in its battery capacity.
Will this post change anything? Of course not. Apple blew the horn that told the industry it’s okay to drop the headphone port, and everyone fell right in line. The next year — and the year after that — Apple sold another 200M-plus phones. At this point, Apple doesn’t even bother giving you the headphone adapter in the box. Apple’s mind is made up.
But if you’re out there, annoyed, stumbling across this post after finding yourself with a pair of headphones and a smartphone that won’t play friendly together in a pinch, just know: you’re not the only one. Two years later, I’m still mad at whoever made this call — and everyone else in the industry who followed suit.

Two years later, I still miss the headphone port

Nomad’s new wireless charging hub is a traveler’s best friend

 If you spend any meaningful amount of time in hotels, you’ll know that many of them are still living in the age of the 30-pin adapter, even though most of us have already moved on to Lightning, wireless charging and USB-C. Nomad’s new wireless USB hub really cuts down on clutter, and makes it easy to charge what you need to charge, when you need to charge it. Read More

Nomad’s new wireless charging hub is a traveler’s best friend

Ford to add Android Auto and CarPlay to 2016 Ford SYNC 3 cars via update

 Ford is updating a large number of 2016 model year cars equipped with SYNC 3 infotainment software, adding Android Auto and CarPlay to the vehicles with a free, over-the-air update via Wi-Fi, or using either USB or going through their dealer. The upgrade will be available for around 800,000 vehicles in total, giving a huge number of Ford car owners the chance to get big infotainment… Read More

Ford to add Android Auto and CarPlay to 2016 Ford SYNC 3 cars via update

Winter Is Coming: The Great iPhone Cable Shortage Of 2012

Winter Is Coming

How many iOS charger cables do you own? You know, the 30-pin connector that’s been packaged alongside every iPod, iPhone and iPad for as long as I can remember. Personally, I own seven. Each of my friends and colleagues has (at the very least) more than one of these wires. Essentially, if you’ve owned an iThing for more than a few months, especially an iPhone, you probably own more than one cable, too.

But the next-gen iPhone, and its 8-pin mini port, will change more than the iThing accessories industry. Sure, there are millions of docks, charging cases, etc. that will have trouble with this transition. But Apple will no doubt sell a connector for backwards compatibility, probably for around $30. This will cause some confusion with people less well-versed in technology, and it will probably take a couple years to get back to cable/dock ubiquity.

Remember the shift from serial ports to USB ports in computers? That mess took more than a decade to get settled, and PCs shipped with serial ports for a few years after USB was implemented as an industry standard. It’ll be a long road ahead.

But the real issue isn’t the accessories ecosystem, it’s the ubiquity of the current iCable model.

Think of it this way. Last we heard, Apple had sold 167 million iDevices in the U.S., including the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch. For the record, that’s about half of the U.S. population. Globally, the company has sold over 365 million iThings. And those are just devices. Now consider the fact that most of those iDevice owners have multiple cables, and that many of them are repeat customers, meaning they have one for each iThing they’ve purchased.

That is a lot of charging cables. And the kicker is that we’ve grown accustomed to this lifestyle. Forgot your charger? No worries. Your friend has one at his house, or your mom has one in her car. Hell, the waitress at the restaurant probably has one.

The other night, I was at dinner with a few friends. One of them reached for his phone, held it out to the waitress, and asked that she plug it in. It wasn’t attached to a charger, but it was an iPhone. To my surprise, she took the phone and plugged it in near the kitchen — an iPhone charger was already ready and waiting for a device to charge.

When the new iPhone launches, there will probably be millions of new iPhone owners in the U.S. within the first few weeks. But for each owner, there will be only one cable. Granted, that little white block that plugs into the wall with a USB port will still work with your new cable, but all your old cables instantly become useless with the new iPhone.

Losing your new 8-pin cable is out of the question, unless you’re clever enough to stock up on iPhone day. Proud fanbois will need to undergo a pretty major adjustment in their mindset, being ever-mindful of their bat-life situation, and remembering to bring a charger with them everywhere.

Remember, the iPhone 4S had some pretty nasty battery life issues, so it’s just plain foolish to think the next iPhone will be any better. In fact, we’ve learned that the iPhone 5 will only get a 10mAh boost from the iPhone 4S battery, at 1440mAh. That’s less than half of the 3300mAh battery in the Droid Razr Maxx, the current heavyweight champion of smartphone batteries.

Then let’s weigh in new Siri capabilities — hopefully the personal assistant will actually be useful, and thus used, this time around. Add to that a 4G LTE radio, which will most certainly be present in the next iPhone, along with more energy efficient tech like NFC and Bluetooth 4, and what are you left with? Really shitty battery life.

But when you’re out in the world, having dinner at a friend’s house, that familiar little white wire probably won’t be there for you anymore. You didn’t think to bring your own cable because you rarely ever had to. And while all your friends are tweeting, Instagramming, and being generally merry, you’ll be staring into your brand new iPhone watching that spinning wheel of death expel the final breaths from your precious.

It sounds like a first world problem. And it is. But I can assure you of this: A month after the iPhone launches, once battery life really begins to wear on people, the number of new iPhone owners will be far greater than one percent.


Winter Is Coming: The Great iPhone Cable Shortage Of 2012