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The iPhone 7’s Missing Headphone Jack: So How do We Listen to Music Now?

The iPhone 7’s Missing Headphone Jack: So How do We Listen to Music Now?

When the iPhone 7 was launched in September, the most newsworthy headlines about the new device weren’t what you might expect. In fact, the most talked about aspect of the iPhone 7 is what wasn’t included: a headphone jack.

Anyone who owns an iPhone has most likely used it to play music; for most, the phone replaced their iPod. Simply plug a set of earbuds into the 3.5mm jack, and it was no different than listening on any other digital music player. Yet while an auxiliary jack for headphones or earbuds was an expected feature on an iPhone, it also represented some issues for Apple.

For starters, any type of jack is a potential failure point for the device. Now granted, most people are able to protect the iPhone jack fairly well, thanks to phone cases and the fact that most devices are kept safe from dirt, moisture, and other contaminants, but there is always a risk. Who doesn’t know someone who dropped their phone the wrong way or had another accident that led to the headphone connector snapping off and getting stuck in the jack?

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Perhaps more importantly for Apple, though, is the fact that a 3.5mm headphone jack adds width to the iPhone – and Apple is all about making their devices thinner and more streamlined with every iteration. Without the headphone jack, it was possible to shave a few more millimeters off the thickness of the phone, and create the thinnest device ever. Given that all engineers in all industries are being challenged to develop ever smaller microcontrollers and small model PICS, this quest for a thin device makes sense.

Despite the benefits of removing the jack, though, consumers still had concerns about the change – most notably, how would they listen to music or other content without a headphone jack? The answer was a Lightning jack, and as it turns out, it’s actually been a welcome change for iPhone users.

Digital, Analog, and Better Sound Quality

When the news broke that the iPhone 7 would not have a headphone jack, users were concerned. However, what they failed to realize was that while we may be used to the technology, it’s not the most efficient – and it’s not necessarily the best way to listen to music.

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Without getting into the differences between analog and digital recordings in general – and perceptions of the quality of either – it’s important to realize that all music played on an iPhone is digital. However, a 3.5mm headphone jack is an analog device, meaning that the iPhone must use a digital to analog converter, contained in the phone, to convert the binary code of the music into an analog form, which is then amplified so it can be heard in the attached headphones. This process can have a significant effect on the quality of the sound heard through the headphones.

By removing the headphone jack, Apple is accomplishing several things. For starters, music can potentially sound better because it isn’t being converted to analog and amplified – it’s being transmitted in digital form to the headphones via a Lightning jack. Not only that, but by removing the DAC and amplifier from the phone, the phone can accommodate a larger battery, thus helping ensure a longer battery life for the device.

So How Do We Listen Now?

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earphone

    Some iPhone users were concerned that the removal of the standard jack meant that they would not be able to listen to music on their phones with headphones at all. This is not the case. The new phones come equipped with a Lightning port, as well as a single pair of Lightning headphones. The new Lightning headphones contain a DAC and amplifier in them, but because the new port and jack are digital, the process of converting sound does not need to take place in the phone.

    This has the potential to improve the sound of music in several ways, not the least of which is the fact that headphone manufacturers are now going to have to work harder to create headphones that have exceptional sound, especially with a wireless focus. Apple has essentially put that pressure on the headphone manufacturers, and with that competition will come better sound.

    Of course, using non-Lightning headphones will require a Lightning converter (one comes with the phone) but most users who have upgraded to the iPhone 7 have found that the change is not as bad as they expected it would be. And since future versions of the ubiquitous device will most likely be designed the same way, it’s only a matter of time before we are all used to it.

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    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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    Ryan Kh

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    Last Updated on August 29, 2018

    5 Killer Online Journal Tools That Make Journaling Easier and More Fun

    5 Killer Online Journal Tools That Make Journaling Easier and More Fun

    Journaling is one of the most useful personal development tools around. Not only does it help us process emotions and experiences, work through internal conflicts and improve our self-awareness, it also provides us with a way to keep a day-to-day record of our lives. Traditionally an activity limited to pen and paper, the expansion of consumer technology has enabled journaling to go digital.

    Saving your journaling entries online enables you to access them from anywhere, without having to carry a notebook and pen around, and provides you with digital features, like tagging and search functions.

    Here are a list of five online journaling tools you can use to bring your practice into the modern age:

    1. 750words

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    750 words

      750words is a free online journaling tool created by Buster Benson. The site is based on the idea of “Morning Pages”; a journaling tool Julia Cameron suggests in her creativity course The Artist’s Way. Cameron advises aspiring creatives to start each morning with three pages of stream-of-consciousness writing to clear away the mental clutter, leaving you with a clearer mind to face the day.

      750 words is the three-page digital equivalent (assuming the average person writes 250 words per page) and lets you store all your journaling online. Each morning, you’ll receive a prompt asking you to write your 750 words, and the site keeps track of various statistics associated with your entries. The site uses a Regressive Imagery Dictionary to calculate the emotional content from your posts and provides feedback on features like your mood, and most commonly used words.

      750 words is simple to set up and is ideal for anyone who finds it challenging to maintain a consistent journaling practice. The site uses a number of incentives to motivate users, including animal badges awarded to journalers who complete a certain number of days in a row, leader boards, and opt-in monthly challenges.

      2. Ohlife

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      ohlife

        Ohlife is designed to make online journaling as easy as possible. Once you’ve signed up for your free account, the website will send you an email each day asking “How did your day go?” Simply reply to the email with as much or as little detail as you like, and your response will be stored on your account, ready to view next time you log in.

        Ohlife’s appeal lies in its simplicity: no stats, no social sharing, no complicated organisational systems—the site is designed to provide you with a private, online space. Simply respond to the email each day (or skip the days you’re busy) and Ohlife will do the rest.

        3. Oneword

        oneword

          OneWord is a fun online tool that provides you with a single word as a prompt and gives you sixty seconds to write about it. The concept’s aim is to help writers learn how to flow, and the prompts range from the everyday mundane to the profound.

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          Oneword is not a private journaling tool: if you sign up, your answers will be published on the site’s daily blog, which contains a stream of users’ answers, and might be used by Oneword in the future. If you’d rather keep your answers to yourself, you can still use the tool for fun without giving out any personal details.

          4. Penzu

            Penzu is a journaling tool that allows you to store your journaling notes online. The service also offers mobile apps for iOS, Android and Blackberry, so you can journal on the go and save your notes to your account. The basic service is free, however you can upgrade to Penzu Pro and get access to additional features, including military-grade encryption and the ability to save and sync data through your mobile, for $19 per year.

            With either version of Penzu, you can insert pictures, and add tags and comments to entries, as well as search for older entries. You can set your posts to be private and viewable by you only, or share them with others.

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            5. Evernote

            Evernote isn’t a purpose-built journaling tool, however its features make it perfect for keeping your journaling notes in one safe place. With the ability to keep separate “notebooks”, tag your entries, include pictures, audio and web clipping, Evernote will appeal to journalers who want to include more formats than just text in their entries.

            Available online within a web browser, and as a stand-alone desktop app, the service also comes with a series of mobile apps covering almost every device available. These allow you to make notes on the go and sync between the mobile and browser versions of the app.

            For additional features, including text recognition and the ability to collaborate on Notebooks, you can upgrade to Evernote’s premium service, which costs $5 per month.

            Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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