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Intel looks to replace headphone jacks with Type-C connector

Lucas Mearian | April 28, 2016
Apple is rumored to be removing the 3.5mm headphone jack on the next-generation iPhone 7.

Intel this week revealed plans to create an upgraded USB Type-C connector that would enable audio input and output, potentially replacing the long-standard 3.5 millimeter headphone jack used in today's electronic devices.

Intel, which revealed its plans during a lecture at its Intel Developers Forum (IDF) in Shenzhen, China, also believes USB Type-C would simplify connections of multi-channel audio equipment to various devices.

Unlike the traditional 3.5mm analogue audio jack, a USB Type-C interface could charge a device in addition to transmitting sound and data. For example, it could transfer health and fitness data from a mobile device.

USB Type-C audio 
Credit: Intel (Click on image to enlarge).

The USB Type-C connectors are reversible, so orientation isn't an issue when plugging something into a device. The USB 3.1 Gen1 specification offers up to 5Gbps of data throughput; the Gen2 specification offers up to 10Gbps.

USB Type-C cables and connectors would replace the last analog receptacles on computers and mobile devices. Intel's strategy was first reported by AnandTech.

In Intel's presentation, it described USB C-Type connectors as being able to support both analog and digital musical content. But the upgraded connector would "promote" a changeover from analog to digital as users would see "improved digital headset features."

A USB Type-C connector that supports audio feeds would also enable new form-factors, improve user experience and "provide a future path for USB technologies," Intel said in the presentation.

In related news, Apple is rumored to be removing the 3.5mm headphone jack on the next-generation iPhone 7, replacing it with the all-in-one Lightning connector.

Intel Type-C connector 
Apple may be planning to create replace the 3.5mm audio jack on its iPhone 7 with a Lightning jack that can also handle audio input. Credit: Lucas Mearian

The report, which emerged last November on  MacRumors, stated that Apple's iPhone 7 plans came from an "often-reliable Japanese website Mac Otakara."

The report said that Apple may also be planning EarPods with Lightning cables to support the new audio output on future iOS devices.

Two years ago, Apple released Made-For-iPhone/iPad/iPod (MFi) specs that manufacturers could use to create headphones that use a Lightning connector to attach to iOS devices.


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