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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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    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 February 15, 2019

    7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

    7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

    Now that 2011 is well underway and most people have fallen off the bandwagon when it comes to their New Year’s resolutions (myself included), it’s a good time to step back and take an honest look at our habits and the goals that we want to achieve.

    Something that I have learned over the past few years is that if you track something, be it your eating habits, exercise, writing time, work time, etc. you become aware of the reality of the situation. This is why most diet gurus tell you to track what you eat for a week so you have an awareness of the of how you really eat before you start your diet and exercise regimen.

    Tracking daily habits and progress towards goals is another way to see reality and create a way for you clearly review what you have accomplished over a set period of time. Tracking helps motivate you too; if I can make a change in my life and do it once a day for a period of time it makes me more apt to keep doing it.

    So, if you have some goals and habits in mind that need tracked, all you need is a tracking tool. Today we’ll look at 7 different tools to help you keep track of your habits and goals.

    Joe’s Goals

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      Joe’s Goals is a web-based tool that allows users to track their habits and goals in an easy to use interface. Users can add as many goals/habits as they want and also check multiple times per day for those “extra productive days”. Something that is unique about Joe’s Goals is the way that you can keep track of negative habits such as eating out, smoking, etc. This can help you visualize the good things that you are doing as well as the negative things that you are doing in your life.

      Joe’s Goals is free with a subscription version giving you no ads and the “latest version” for $12 a year.

      Daytum

        Daytum

        is an in depth way of counting things that you do during the day and then presenting them to you in many different reports and groups. With Daytum you can add several different items to different custom categories such as work, school, home, etc. to keep track of your habits in each focus area of your life.

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        Daytum is extremely in depth and there are a ton of settings for users to tweak. There is a free version that is pretty standard, but if you want more features and unlimited items and categories you’ll need Daytum Plus which is $4 a month.

        Excel or Numbers

          If you are the spreadsheet number cruncher type and the thought of using someone else’s idea of how you should track your habits turns you off, then creating your own Excel/Numbers/Google spreadsheet is the way to go. Not only do you have pretty much limitless ways to view, enter, and manipulate your goal and habit data, but you have complete control over your stuff and can make it private.

          What’s nice about spreadsheets is you can create reports and can customize your views in any way you see fit. Also, by using Dropbox, you can keep your tracker sheets anywhere you have a connection.

          Evernote

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            I must admit, I am an Evernote junky, mostly because this tool is so ubiquitous. There are several ways you can implement habit/goal tracking with Evernote. You won’t be able to get nifty reports and graphs and such, but you will be able to access your goal tracking anywhere your are, be it iPhone, Android, Mac, PC, or web. With Evernote you pretty much have no excuse for not entering your daily habit and goal information as it is available anywhere.

            Evernote is free with a premium version available.

            Access or Bento

              If you like the idea of creating your own tracker via Excel or Numbers, you may be compelled to get even more creative with database tools like Access for Windows or Bento for Mac. These tools allow you to set up relational databases and even give you the option of setting up custom interfaces to interact with your data. Access is pretty powerful for personal database applications, and using it with other MS products, you can come up with some pretty awesome, in depth analysis and tracking of your habits and goals.

              Bento is extremely powerful and user friendly. Also with Bento you can get the iPhone and iPad app to keep your data anywhere you go.

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              You can check out Access and the Office Suite here and Bento here.

              Analog Bonus: Pen and Paper

              All these digital tools are pretty nifty and have all sorts of bells and whistles, but there are some people out there that still swear by a notebook and pen. Just like using spreadsheets or personal databases, pen and paper gives you ultimate freedom and control when it comes to your set up. It also doesn’t lock you into anyone else’s idea of just how you should track your habits.

              Conclusion

              I can’t necessarily recommend which tool is the best for tracking your personal habits and goals, as all of them have their quirks. What I can do however (yes, it’s a bit of a cop-out) is tell you that the tool to use is whatever works best for you. I personally keep track of my daily habits and personal goals with a combo Evernote for input and then a Google spreadsheet for long-term tracking.

              What this all comes down to is not how or what tool you use, but finding what you are comfortable with and then getting busy with creating lasting habits and accomplishing short- and long-term goals.

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