Apple is "killing in the name of" future headphones

If there is two things you can agree on with Apple, it's that A) The company likes to take even the most simple things and try to do them differently, and B) They very much like proprietary things which work exclusively with their devices.

Apple recently bought Beats, which started its journey as a overly-priced headphones manufacturer with distinct design. Apart from being much like its new owner, many wondered why Apple would want Beats. Maybe it's to continue the company's "cool" image amongst the kids? Maybe it's to use Beats' new music service to compete with the likes of Spotify? I'm sure both of these reasons are true, but I believe there is a much bigger plan at play...

Let's be clear, when I say Apple wants to "kill" headphones I'm being dramatic - but I do thing the guys and girls at Cupertino have a slight vendetta against them. It's particularly against the aging 3.5mm headphone jack which has prevented design-guru Jony Ive from crafting slimmer masterpieces.

To remove such a legacy port would need clear benefits. Apple filed a patent in February which features self-adjusting, noise-cancelling headphones. The described earbuds would measure the ambient noise coming into the headphones using a small microphone and adjust based on that reading to deliver the best sound quality possible. They would also be capable of sending a push notification if the headphones have a poor seal to prevent noise leakage.

Similar noise-cancelling technology found on current high-end headphones require external power due to not enough being provided through the standard 3.5mm headphone jack. Headphones powered by Apple's Lightning connector would have all they need to be lighter and yet more capable. This was hinted at in a slide at WWDC...

The iBeats trademark initially covered only audio/video equipment such as headphones, clothing, music performances, and various advertising methods. It has since been expanded to encompass areas such as broadcasting, social networking, digital music downloads, and streaming music. It appears Apple isn't ready to give up its music legacy to newcomers.

Undoubtedly the company will be bringing the fight at the iPhone 6's grand unveiling later this year. We expect the device to have a bigger display, and now, be even thinner to regain its crown against smartphones such as the Huawei Ascend P7. Although it is hard to get a clear idea of scale, a recently-leaked backplate seems to show a design thinner than what the inclusion of a headphone jack would allow for. As always, such leaks should be taken with a grain of salt...

Do you think Apple has legacy headphones in its sights? Let us know in the comments.

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Steadman
9 Jun 2014, 1:17 p.m.

As someone who's considering a move back to iOS after a year with Android, this would normally horrify me, but I have a pair of headphones with an interchangeable lead. I've already replaced the lead once - which has a remote and mic - so if it were just a matter of AKG making a lead with a Lightening connector, I'd find it hard to get too wound up, although I would definitely understand others' outrage.

Better sound quality and noise reduction are a great way to sell us on Apple's desire to control, and thus make money from every aspect of their products. It was partly that attitude that made me drift away, but having spent so much time using less-polished apps, it's easier to see why one might just give up and submit to the will of Apple :)

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