Without Jack in Apple’s Garden

Apple killed the headphone jack, and it is tragic. Or is it?

The web is full of critical comments on Apple’s decision to cancel the „perfectly-fine audio jack that fits every earbud and headphone you own“, and while Walt Mossberg from RECODE found a constructive way to tell us about what he thinks is a bad move at this time (Link at the bottom), other critics were less expedient. They all share the same argument though:

picabay / eak_kkk / CC0 Public Domain
“With the universal headphone jack gone, you cannot listen to your music and charge the phone at the same time.”

And while this is a valid argument, I highly doubt it is a strong one. The first time somebody used it to underline the scope of Apple’s (bad) decision to me, I wondered: Who sits on a couch listening to music through headphones, and charges his iPhone on a regular basis?

The person I discussed the matter with passionately stated the argument, but quickly realized she could not tell when she used her iPhone in this particular manner. So before you raise your hand to tell me that you are, please, imagine yourself doing so, and ask yourself, when you listened to music through your headphones while charging your iPhone.

Jack might be back, though!

I think most smartphone users must admit: this scenario is not the usual way to use any smartphone, but rather a possibility. And, while there are plenty of other scenarios illustrating how bad a decision this is, I wonder:

Is the lightning connector really such a bad ending of my headphones?

Or will it turn out to be just another characteristic that brings both pros and cons to the table as does every other detail on every smartphone? I refuse to loose my head over the matter, for a simple reason: I did before, and it was unnecessary.

With this in mind we could reboot the discussion and — again — talk about Apple taking some usability from our devices, or, to put it in tech terms, about the walled garden that just grew a little smaller.

When Apple took the optical drive from the Macbook Pro Series I thought it was a stupid move that would only limit my options with the Mac. Of course I was right in the beginning, but things quickly changed. How often do I use an optical disc these days? I have no idea, so I guess not even 10 times this year. And while I use an external drive to fill my hard drive with music from optical discs — I am old school when it comes to “owning music physically“ — the very few times I have to use the drive to install an application, I search for the option to download it.

However good an example this might be, of course, these are different matters, and the headphone jack plays in another league of its own — for mobility reasons. But, since mobility is all the smartphone is about, I do not believe in an argument for the headphone jack that is based on a scenario limiting the usability in any way. Of course, there will be moments, when this universal piece of technology will be missed. But what is usually keeping me from listening to my music is either the battery life, or a forgotten headphone. In both cases a headphone jack would not help at all.

Every other scenario will probably be dealt with by accessory manufacturers. An unnecessary result of Apple’s decision you might add, or as Nick Statt from THE VERGE recently put it, “a huge gift to accessory makers”. But this, too, is follows the same procedure as every year. You just have to decide, if you want an iPhone 7 or not.

If you do, you will probably get yourself “a fundamentally superb phone”, according to Vlad Savov from THE VERGE. In any case, even without Jack everything seems to have “turned out just fine” (Dan Frommer).