Apple killing off the headphone port is stupid beyond belief

Haje Jan Kamps
Sep 7, 2016 · 4 min read

So, Phil Schiller just announced that Apple is killing off the one last non-proprietary port the company has left on its phones. There’s a number of reasons why that is unbearably stupid, not least of which that there’s nothing wrong with the headphone socket.

14.3mm deep, 3.5mm in diameter is all we are talking about here. Sure, that’s a bit thicker than Apple’s own 1.6mm thick, 7.6mm wide and 6.7mm deep Lightning socket, but…seriously? Apple’s already pretty damn smart headphone jack tech means that the jacks add next to no thickness to the devices.

Is having to accommodate for a perfectly acceptable standard — the only standard that is used on everything from cars to airplanes to phones, iPads, computers to transmit sound — really that big of a chore? Apple, you have some of the smartest and best engineers in the world. You can find space for a pathetic little 0.008396 in³ worth of socket. I know it.

So, what’s the impact?

It’s going to suck to listen to music for a while. Yes, we’re aware that Bluetooth is a thing that exists, but Bluetooth really sucks. It’s yet another thing to remember to charge. Yet another thing to lose. And for the foreseeable future, you’re not going to be able to use your Bluetooth headphones with a lot of other things. Good luck connecting your Bluetooth headset to in-flight entertainment etc.

It’s not just about having to carry a second set of headphones around — the other problem is not being able to hook your phone up to stuff. If your car doesn’t have Bluetooth, you can’t use the cassette adapter trick or hook it up to the Aux port that seems to be in most cars these days. If your car does have Bluetooth, good luck connecting to it. Yes, that’s not Apple’s fault, that’s the car manufacturers’. But…come on, for the sake of a 3.5mm socket? This isn’t what progress looks like. Oh, and have fun the next time you get on a plane.

There are a lot of companies who’ve built their business on being able to use the headphone socket. Tangram’s Smart Dot uses your headphone socket to control a laser pointer. HMB makes a multimeter that plugs into the headphone socket. And with the Kinsa, you shove your smartphone up your… I mean, you can use it as a thermometer.

And, of course, there is Triggertrap. Our tech relies on the headphone socket to control your camera via our app.

What does this mean for Triggertrap?

All of these companies could sign up to the MFi (Made For iOS) program and use the Lightning connector, but there are two problems with this. One; Apple needs to approve whatever it is you are doing. Two; you’ll be paying a hefty licensing fee to Apple. Which, ultimately, might be what this is all about. Apple are known for a lot of things. Not getting a slice of the pie is not one of them.

So, if we were to create a MFi version of Triggertrap Mobile, we would face two problems. For one thing, we would need to create two versions: One for Apple users (and pray that Apple doesn’t kill the Lightning connector on the iPhone 8) and one for Android users. That doubles the number of SKUs we need to keep from 14 to 28; a nightmare, from a logistics point of view.

In addition, however, we would need to pay Apple a $4 royalty on each device we manufacture. Not sell. Manufacture. Which means that our cost of creating a batch of 25,000 Triggertrap Mobile dongles just increased by $100,000. Put bluntly, that’s just fucking ridiculous. Even if we wanted to (we don’t), we couldn’t afford to see our up-front costs increase like that.

We do have a solution…

The rumors of Apple’s senseless murder of the poor innocent headphone jack have been swilling for a while, so we’ve been coming up with a number of solutions. It’s great news that Apple announced it is including a headphone adapter in the box (so much for them couragously abandoning the port…).

We haven’t yet been able to test whether the adapter works with Triggertrap Mobile, but if you want, we can e-mail you as soon as we have confirmation. If you’d like that, please drop your contact details in this hat.

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Haje Jan Kamps

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Helping startups for a living and taking photos for fun.

Triggertrap Playbook

A look behind the scenes at Triggertrap