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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 May 14, 2019

    8 Replacements for Google Notebook

    8 Replacements for Google Notebook

    Exploring alternatives to Google Notebook? There are more than a few ‘notebooks’ available online these days, although choosing the right one will likely depend on just what you use Google Notebook for.

    1. Zoho Notebook
      If you want to stick with something as close to Google Notebook as possible, Zoho Notebook may just be your best bet. The user interface has some significant changes, but in general, Zoho Notebook has pretty similar features. There is even a Firefox plugin that allows you to highlight content and drop it into your Notebook. You can go a bit further, though, dropping in any spreadsheets or documents you have in Zoho, as well as some applications and all websites — to the point that you can control a desktop remotely if you pare it with something like Zoho Meeting.
    2. Evernote
      The features that Evernote brings to the table are pretty great. In addition to allowing you to capture parts of a website, Evernote has a desktop search tool mobil versions (iPhone and Windows Mobile). It even has an API, if you’ve got any features in mind not currently available. Evernote offers 40 MB for free accounts — if you’ll need more, the premium version is priced at $5 per month or $45 per year. Encryption, size and whether you’ll see ads seem to be the main differences between the free and premium versions.
    3. Net Notes
      If the major allure for Google Notebooks lays in the Firefox extension, Net Notes might be a good alternative. It’s a Firefox extension that allows you to save notes on websites in your bookmarks. You can toggle the Net Notes sidebar and access your notes as you browse. You can also tag websites. Net Notes works with Mozilla Weave if you need to access your notes from multiple computers.
    4. i-Lighter
      You can highlight and save information from any website while you’re browsing with i-Lighter. You can also add notes to your i-Lighted information, as well as email it or send the information to be posted to your blog or Twitter account. Your notes are saved in a notebook on your computer — but they’re also synchronized to the iLighter website. You can log in to the site from any computer.
    5. Clipmarks
      For those browsers interested in sharing what they find with others, Clipmarks provides a tool to select clips of text, images and video and share them with friends. You can easily syndicate your finds to a whole list of sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Digg. You can also easily review your past clips and use them as references through Clipmarks’ website.
    6. UberNote
      If you can think of a way to send notes to UberNote, it can handle it. You can clip material while browsing, email, IM, text message or even visit the UberNote sites to add notes to the information you have saved. You can organize your notes, tag them and even add checkboxes if you want to turn a note into some sort of task list. You can drag and drop information between notes in order to manage them.
    7. iLeonardo
      iLeonardo treats research as a social concern. You can create a notebook on iLeonardo on a particular topic, collecting information online. You can also access other people’s notebooks. It may not necessarily take the place of Google Notebook — I’m pretty sure my notes on some subjects are cryptic — but it’s a pretty cool tool. You can keep notebooks private if you like the interface but don’t want to share a particular project. iLeonardo does allow you to follow fellow notetakers and receive the information they find on a particular topic.
    8. Zotero
      Another Firefox extension, Zotero started life as a citation management tool targeted towards academic researchers. However, it offers notetaking tools, as well as a way to save files to your notebook. If you do a lot of writing in Microsoft Word or Open Office, Zotero might be the tool for you — it’s integrated with both word processing software to allow you to easily move your notes over, as well as several blogging options. Zotero’s interface is also available in more than 30 languages.

    I’ve been relying on Google Notebook as a catch-all for blog post ideas — being able to just highlight information and save it is a great tool for a blogger.

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    In replacing it, though, I’m starting to lean towards Evernote. I’ve found it handles pretty much everything I want, especially with the voice recording feature. I’m planning to keep trying things out for a while yet — I’m sticking with Google Notebook until the Firefox extension quits working — and if you have any recommendations that I missed when I put together this list, I’d love to hear them — just leave a comment!

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