I think it’s frustrating that companies create proprietary hardware. Lightning is frustrating, the W1 chip enabling these AirPods are frustrating, etc. Back in the 1960s, we had this awesome explosion of public domain science and engineering research from funding of NASA, etc. That doesn’t happen much anymore because there’s not a lot of research funded in a similar way – or, when it is, the companies that receive the grants to do the research are allowed to commercialize it.
However, for me, I find most wired headphones to be a hassle. I’ve long thought that it would be great to have some well-designed wireless ones without the lag of Bluetooth. While I’m not arguing that these are either well-designed or without the Bluetooth lag, I would put up a mild argument that they’re a step towards lightweight, lag-free, long battery life, wireless headphones. Are we there? No. Will we be in 5 years? I hope so. Like the removal of DVD drives and offering of the external SuperDrive, the first company to make that type of tech change is rightly criticized for disrupting the workflow and hardware of many people. Innovation sometimes needs a jolt to get started, however, and wealthy companies with the reach of Apple, Google, etc. have the clout and resources to take the hit associated with those jolts.
I have an iPhone 6s and I’m not planning to get an iPhone 7. I am, however, very curious to see what happens over the next 2-3 years (during which time I’m unlikely to upgrade my phone) to improve wireless headphone technology. I guess I’m sort of hopeful that this move by Apple kickstarts more research and innovation in the wireless headphone and/or communication protocol arena.
My hearing is terrible, however. I’ve thought about going for hearing aids. Headphones are great for me only because they pump the sound straight into my noggin which makes it easier for me to hear. More than anything, I would like some nice headphones that I can use with my television and/or gaming rig that would allow me to game without making a lot of TV noise and simultaneously actually hear and understand the dialog in the games.
For me, I consider the loss of the 3.5mm jack a positive if it leads to research that improves the quality of wireless headphones. I guess I feel like we’re at a local maximum with wired headphones and that taking the hit to eliminate them from phones may eventually lead us to a higher peak on Clay’s Headphone Upgraded Design (C.H.U.D.) curve.
Also, they’re not the only company looking at replacing the 3.5mm jack: