First came the smartphone. Initially in the form of a “Blackberry”, a big clunky device with a full mini QWERTY keyword built in. Then came the all-touch screen Apple iPhone. The rest you could say, is history. With the advent of the smartphone the boundaries of tech, that it was contained to laboratories and big clunky desktop computers, were blown away.
The Evolution of Mobile Tech
Now you could have a computer in your pocket.. even if it was horribly slow, had 1 gigabyte of RAM and took ages to stream media with ancient cellular connection speeds. Still, the smartphone revolutionized how we thought about tech. Both Blackberry and Apple made tech portable, personal, and most of all, exciting!
The smartphone opened the flood gates of new mobile technology. Next came tablet computers like the iPad, then smartwatches, little wrist-mounted computers. Then things like smartglasses in the form of Google Glass and now virtual reality tech, another form of “smart” mobile tech. Laptops get thinner and more advanced, accelerometer and gyroscopes and processors are constantly shrinking in size and being built into all kinds of objects.
Now, it seems the latest and greatest wave in tech is being experienced in the music/audio industry. With the adoption of Lightning and USB-C only ports on new flagship smartphones from both Android and Apple, it seems the way of the old analog 3.5mm audio jacks are limited. With both Lightning and USB-C there are a whole new variety of features being incorporated into what was a somewhat aging technology.
New cables and connector types means headphones can be just as smart as smartwatches or the phones they’re connected to. Since USB-C and Lightning both have the ability to share both electrical power and data simultaneously, they allow for the headphones or earbuds themselves to become a “smart” appendage of the phone itself. This means things like amplified/HIFI audio quality, active noise cancelling and interactive EQs can be controlled and powered from the phone itself, without the need of external battery packs.
Sites are popping up now focusing solely on this new exciting audio-industry sub-sector. Lightningcans.com for example, is a Apple-focused tech blog that explores ONLY Lightning-powered headsets and accessories. There are a plethora of USB-C and Android specific audio-specific tech blogs as well. In a way, we are seeing a bit of a renaissance in the audio industry.
Benefits for All Platforms
While Apple has received most of the attention for their “brave” decision to drop the old style headphone jack, Android is also following suit, with many smartphone makers reportedly planning to drop their jacks as well in favor of a single, more stylish and versatile USB-C type connector, which is essentially the same thing as Apple’s Lightning. The perks are the same, and major tech outlets are happily sharing the benefits of this new connector type with their audiences.
Companies from Motorolla to Samsung are all planning to simplify and switch to USB-C. When multiple major players in an industry make a concerted effort to switch to a whole new technology, you can bet there are plenty of positive reasons to do so, and in general, the industry is quite positive about the added benefits these new cables will bring to their ears. Only audiophile communities are already clamoring for the adoption of new connector types, undoubtedly because of the new powered features they will bring.
Not everyone is happy however, like all advances in technology, there will always be a small but vocal crowd that are unwilling or hesitant to upgrade. This happened when we switched from VHS to DVD, and then from DVD to Blu-Ray. The same thing is happening with CDs, MP3’s and now music streaming. Many music lovers are clinging to their old headsets, but analysts suspect, as with most technological advances, they’ll eventually jump on the Lightning/USB-C connector bandwagon as well.