Whether they like it or not, iPhone 7 users will have to live with the fact that the new phone does not have a headphone jack. Many cynical theories exist regarding this decision by Apple Inc., with one of the most popular being that it would be good for the sales of Lightning-based headphones produced by Apple subsidiary, Beats.
Nevertheless, Apple continues to insist that leaving out the headphone jack is an act of ‘courage,’ and that the company was willing to get out a familiar comfort zone and start the push towards a future with wireless headphones. Also, by not having a 3.5 mm jack, there is now more room for better cameras and bigger batteries in the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus.
However, many industry analysts have taken Apple’s reasons for the change at face value. The company’s move to wireless headphones moving forward would appear to be a big signal of the next wave of mobile tech and computing.
AirPod Wireless Headphones Are the Key
What holds the key to understanding why Apple made such a radical change are the AirPod wireless headphones. Because they are, technically, standard Bluetooth headphones, they work with Bluetooth-capable Android phones, Blackberry or PCs that you may have lying around.
However, you get to experience the magic of the AirPods when there are used with an iPad, Mac or iPhone: Because of Apple’s W1 chip, the headphones can be smoothly and seamlessly paired with any iPad or iPhone within range, as long as it is running on iOS 10. The macOS Sierra is set to be released in September and the AirPods will be compatible with them too.
An interesting part of the AirPod design is the complete lack of any physical buttons on it. The only control that the headphones have is a touch sensitive sensor which is used to activate Siri, the voice assistant software from Apple. The one-touch access that AirPod users have to Siri is the best indicator of the plans that Apple has for AirPods, for Siri, and for how the company believes people should use computers.
It Is All About Siri
Apple has put a lot of time and energy into advertising the fact that when the new iOS 10 update is released, it will contain some major updates to Siri, which include allowing it to access other apps. For example, you will now be able to send a WhatsApp message, control HomeKit-compatible appliances or send money to a friend through Square Cash using your voice, through Siri. After this, it should be a natural progression – an AirPod will make it much simpler to use Siri.
The updated Siri will let you use your apps without having to take your phone out of your pocket or looking at your Apple Watch. What it means is that you may need to keep wearing your AirPods even when you are not listening to music.
Because AirPods do not have wires, they are less obtrusive than standard wired headphones. Because they can be synced with all your Apple devices, you have one-touch control of Siri across your gadgets, and Siri can now follow you from phone to tablet to laptop. The Apple TV also has Siri, so it seems reasonable to expect AirPod syncing eventually.
The result is a massive benefit for Apple, because users need to have at least an iPhone if they are to make the most of the headphones. If they do not have access to Siri, the AirPods are simply ordinary Bluetooth headphones. This will keep and attract users to the Apple family as growth in smartphone sales slows down.
Straight Out of Science Fiction
Apple’s new devices and software give us a glimpse of what is possible with Siri, most importantly, allowing you to spend more time living your life instead of staring at a phone screen. The medium term vision that Apple has is increasing its users’ reliance on Siri. However, looking much longer-term, there is plenty of opportunity to really push the envelope with their latest set of products. In fact, a recent article by Will Oremus on Slate Magazine described the AirPods as the “first ear computers.”
Ever since the earliest days of personal computing, to the current era with its smartphones and tablets, users have had to rely on some type of display, along with some kind of keyboard, whether physical or virtual. Although this is a system that has worked great for some time, it is well known that humans naturally communicate through speech, sound and music.
The success of gadgets like Amazon’s Echo proves that there is a demand for gadgets that are able to receive and deliver information by talking to you. For now, we can only sit back and watch Apple change the way we communicate. One thing we know for sure is that this is going to be an interesting ride!