There has already been plenty of speculation about all the potential new features, but the big change that has captured the most column inches in the mainstream press has been Apple’s decision to ditch the ubiquitous 3.5mm headphone jack and use the Lightning port as a ‘one port to rule them all’ for the iPhone 7.
While my colleague Oscar says it’s Apple innovation at its best I’m not so sure.
One of the products I’ve reviewed for the next print issue of Macworld Australia is 3SIXt’s Lightning Headphones. They’re a good product and worth considering.
But I hit a problem using them – and it’s not a flaw in the product.
My iPhone 6s was down to around 25 percent battery and I wanted to listen to some music. Ordinarily, I’d plug into the mains or connect a battery pack and keep listening, watching a video or clear some email. But with my Lightning headphones plugged in, I can’t do that.
Of course, Apple wants us to embrace wireless everything but, unless airlines change their rules, wireless headphones aren’t meant to be used in flight. And wireless needs power at some point so I’m going to find myself needing to charge more devices, more often.
I’m not sure what Apple will do about this. Perhaps it will use the Lightning port for headphones and legacy charging cables, but include its new Smart Connector as an alternative for charging and syncing to a computer.
The trouble with doing everything through one port is that the port becomes a bottleneck for anyone wanting to do two things at one. Even the new MacBook, which is a very elegant piece of kit, forces you to carry an adapter if you want to do something as ‘out there’ as charging and using a USB stick at the same time!
Apple’s quest for simplification is a good thing. But when oversimplification leads to a poorer user experience, then it’s time to step back and evaluate whether reducing the number of ports is a good thing.
And, despite what headphones Apple chooses to bundle with the new iPhone 7, I doubt they’ll match the sound I get from the two pairs of Bose noise-cancelling headphones I use. So, I guess I’ll be using an adapter if I get a new iPhone.