Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 5th Oct 2017 22:33 UTC
Multimedia, AV

Nilay Patel on the further disappearance of the headphone jack, and its replacement, Bluetooth:

To improve Bluetooth, platform vendors like Apple and Google are riffing on top of it, and that means they’re building custom solutions. And building custom solutions means they’re taking the opportunity to prioritize their own products, because that is a fair and rational thing for platform vendors to do.

Unfortunately, what is fair and rational for platform vendors isn’t always great for markets, competition, or consumers. And at the end of this road, we will have taken a simple, universal thing that enabled a vibrant market with tons of options for every consumer, and turned it into yet another limited market defined by ecosystem lock-in.

This is exactly what's happening, and it is turning something simple and straightforward - get headphones, plug it in literally every single piece of headphones-enabled audio equipment made in the last 100 years, and have it work - into an incompatibility nightmare. And this incompatibility nightmare is growing and getting worse, moving beyond just non-standard Bluetooth; you can't use Apple Music with speakers from Google or Amazon, and Spotify doesn't work on the Apple Watch.

Removing the headphone jack was a user-hostile move when Apple did it, and it's still a user-hostile move when Google does it.

Order by: Score:
get off my lawn Thom
by kristoph on Thu 5th Oct 2017 22:37 UTC
kristoph
Member since:
2006-01-01

Seriously though, I have, on many occasions found it a huge pain that I can't plug in headphones ( using the dongle ) while charging my phone. Especially on an air planes while I travel with my bose headset.

That said the AirPod's are amazing and I love them.

Reply Score: 1

RE: get off my lawn Thom
by leech on Fri 6th Oct 2017 02:39 UTC in reply to "get off my lawn Thom"
leech Member since:
2006-01-10

I watched an Episode of Homeland where a (and I'll try not to do any spoilers) woman goes into the restroom and pulls out her iPhone to insert a weird little lightning adapter/storage device and headphones to listen to some secret mission information.

Couldn't help but laugh and say "you can't do that on the later models..."

Reply Score: 5

RE: get off my lawn Thom
by shotsman on Fri 6th Oct 2017 06:11 UTC in reply to "get off my lawn Thom"
shotsman Member since:
2005-07-22

There are 'Y' adapters available that allow you to do this but yes, it is sometimes a bit of a PITA which is why I still carry all my music on an iPod Touch.

Reply Score: 3

RE: get off my lawn Thom
by Lennie on Fri 6th Oct 2017 08:47 UTC in reply to "get off my lawn Thom"
Lennie Member since:
2007-09-22

My Android phone has a jack at the top and a USB-charge/data plug at the bottom. I see no problem.

Was your phone designed wrong ?

Reply Score: 6

RE[2]: get off my lawn Thom
by Isolationist on Sun 8th Oct 2017 07:53 UTC in reply to "RE: get off my lawn Thom"
Isolationist Member since:
2006-05-28

Good for you.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: get off my lawn Thom
by The123king on Tue 10th Oct 2017 07:52 UTC in reply to "RE: get off my lawn Thom"
The123king Member since:
2009-05-28

My iPhone 5 has lightning AND a headphone jack

:)

Reply Score: 2

bluetooth
by badtz on Fri 6th Oct 2017 00:15 UTC
badtz
Member since:
2005-06-29

AirPods are perfectly playable from any bluetooth device, and audio streaming is standardized (A2DP, etc)... what's the issue? The proprietary layer is on top of bluetooth, but if you don't have matching products it'll still operate just fine.

Reply Score: 1

DRM is the future
by tylerdurden on Fri 6th Oct 2017 00:17 UTC
tylerdurden
Member since:
2009-03-17

The removal of the last analog output from the iPhone/Pixel opens the gates for (future) DRM strategies.

At some point only "compliant" music will be allowed to play through the "sanctioned" USB headphones.

I think the ideal device for Apple (and google it seems now) is a port free one. Where content going in and out can be fully sanctioned.

Reply Score: 8

RE: DRM is the future
by leech on Fri 6th Oct 2017 02:41 UTC in reply to "DRM is the future"
leech Member since:
2006-01-10

The removal of the last analog output from the iPhone/Pixel opens the gates for (future) DRM strategies.

At some point only "compliant" music will be allowed to play through the "sanctioned" USB headphones.

I think the ideal device for Apple (and google it seems now) is a port free one. Where content going in and out can be fully sanctioned.

Frightening to think, but that's perfectly possible with wireless charging...

Reply Score: 4

RE: DRM is the future
by Lennie on Fri 6th Oct 2017 08:48 UTC in reply to "DRM is the future"
Lennie Member since:
2007-09-22

That is exactly what I think is going on.

Reply Score: 3

RE: DRM is the future
by Sidux on Fri 6th Oct 2017 11:22 UTC in reply to "DRM is the future"
Sidux Member since:
2015-03-10

And consumers will adapt in time ..
Same with the idea of Pixel Book / iPad Pro being a professional device.

Reply Score: 3

RE: DRM is the future
by kurkosdr on Fri 6th Oct 2017 18:05 UTC in reply to "DRM is the future"
kurkosdr Member since:
2011-04-11

The removal of the last analog output from the iPhone/Pixel opens the gates for (future) DRM strategies.

At some point only "compliant" music will be allowed to play through the "sanctioned" USB headphones.


Apple could already impose such restriction even on iPhones with a headphone jackck, because they control the filesystem, the OS and the apps the OS runs, they don't need to ditch the headphone jack for this.

What they could do however is use some kind of DRM in the USB interface in order to provide a "protected path" that will help them secure exclusivities from music labels. Think of the Blu-ray player - HDMI interface - HDMI monitor chain to understand what I am talking about.

And of course some kid will figure a way to capture the content directly from the device making the whole chain an exercise in futility. But the labels will have already been sold on the idea anyway (think Blu-ray and HDDVD, in fact Blu-ray won the format war party because it was supposed to have more "unbreakable" DRM than HDDVD).

Edited 2017-10-06 18:14 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE: DRM is the future
by grat on Fri 6th Oct 2017 19:44 UTC in reply to "DRM is the future"
grat Member since:
2006-02-02

Yes, because DRM worked so well for iTunes.

And DIVX.

And Sony.

This isn't a conspiracy about what you can and can't play, it's the engineers whining about that audio amplifier circuit that requires isolation and discrete amplifier chips for left/right, and that massive 3.5" jack which has to be anchored to the circuit board in such a way that the average gorilla (ie, user) can't rip it loose-- especially when the phone already has the circuitry for broadcasting a digital stereo signal over short range, that's easily able to handle your 128 kb/s MP3 file.

Analog audio, especially in the digital age, isn't as easy as you think-- multi-gigahertz quad- and hex-core CPU's generate a lot of interference-- not to mention the cellular radio.

And as for Thom's assertion that analog headphones have "just worked" for the past 100 years, when I was a kid, they tended to have 1/4" stereo plugs-- 1/8" didn't show up until the walkman era (which I slightly predate)-- not to mention XLR and RCA connectors, and don't even get me started on "impedance", something that serious headphone users care a great deal about.

Yeah, the beats and buds headsets are overpriced marketing blunders-- but I've been reliably using bluetooth audio since the A2DP profile came out with stereo support.

When TPM came out, it was "proof" that Microsoft would block Linux from ever running on PC.

When UEFI / SecureBoot came out, it was a "fact" that this would prevent anyone besides Microsoft from installing an OS on your PC.

Neither came to pass. I have linux booting from UEFI, and by choice, have secureboot disabled, and TPM has uses, but not enough that most people bother purchasing the module.

While apparently, I can't tell Alexa to queue up songs on Spotify, that's an infrastructure issue that I avoid by not inviting Alexa, Google, Siri, or Cortana to spy on me in my own home. If you have one of these devices, you have already elected to wall yourself up in their ecosystem.

Now, tell me I can't use the bluetooth headset of my choice to listen to an iPhone or a Pixel phone, and there may be something to this talk of conspiracy-- but the Verge article reads to me as FUD trying to draw parallels where none exist (yet).

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: DRM is the future
by kurkosdr on Fri 6th Oct 2017 21:31 UTC in reply to "RE: DRM is the future"
kurkosdr Member since:
2011-04-11

Yes, because DRM worked so well for iTunes.


It did. iTunes was the first successful online music store. Although I personally didn't understand the point behind iTunes DRM, since the files could be burnt to CD and then ripped to some other DRM-free format (lossless or not), it apparently was enough for the record label execs to be sold to the idea of the digital music store. Also, iTunes compat was a big unique selling point (read: vendor lock-in) for the iPod line of devices, making the iPod a very profitable cash cow for Apple which financed their Mac advertising campaign and their iPhone endeavor.

And DIVX.


That was a solution for a problem that never existed: Special DVD rental discs requiring special expensive and connected players for minor added functionality compared to ordinary DVD-Video discs.

The DVD-Video format though was successful partly because of DRM, since studio execs had made it clear there would be no digital releases in full standard definition resolution without DRM.

And Sony.


Developers abandoned the Dreamcast and went to the PS2, despite the fact the PS2 was harder to program for, because a great deal of Dreamcast consoles allowed users to just run games from CD-Rs, no mod chips needed. Blu-ray won over HDDVD party because it had BD+, which was marketed to studio execs as unbreakable.

Edited 2017-10-06 21:34 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: DRM is the future
by grat on Sat 7th Oct 2017 02:56 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: DRM is the future"
grat Member since:
2006-02-02

... and Apple was the first to drop DRM from it's store.

As far as Sony goes, I was thinking their CD copy-protection effort that resulted in massive lawsuits.

I do agree DIVX was a solution in search of a problem.

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: DRM is the future
by kurkosdr on Sat 7th Oct 2017 10:15 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: DRM is the future"
kurkosdr Member since:
2011-04-11


As far as Sony goes, I was thinking their CD copy-protection effort that resulted in massive lawsuits.


That wasn't really DRM, but improvised copy protection kludged on a DRM-free format.

Reply Score: 1

RE[5]: DRM is the future
by zima on Sat 7th Oct 2017 17:27 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: DRM is the future"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

What is DRM if not copy protection?

Reply Score: 2

RE[6]: DRM is the future
by kurkosdr on Sun 8th Oct 2017 09:40 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: DRM is the future"
kurkosdr Member since:
2011-04-11

What is DRM if not copy protection?


DRM is part of the original format, copy protection is a kludge tacked later on.

In DVDs for example, CSS, the APS flag and the Region Lock flags are DRM, ARccOS is copy protection.

The difference is that DRM, being part of the original format, defines the technical measures to prevent copying from unauthorized devices and in addition defines how the technical measures should be handled by authorized devices, as well as how the content should be handled by authorized devices, while copy protection is a kludge intended to confuse the machine and partially reduce compatibility and doesn't make the distinction between unauthorized and authorized, and defines only the technical measures to achieve "protection" against copying.

The main difference is that, while DRM could be made to allow managed copying from authorized devices (think iTunes DRM allowing copying the song to iPod), copy protection tries to block all copying (think Sony XCP).

Edited 2017-10-08 09:49 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: DRM is the future
by tylerdurden on Sat 7th Oct 2017 01:09 UTC in reply to "RE: DRM is the future"
tylerdurden Member since:
2009-03-17

The two things we're talking about are orthogonal, and one does not necessarily negate the other.

Removing the headphone jack is a great cost cutting measure. Yes, it does simply the design. And in the case of Apple it opens a new revenue stream of accessories.

It also eliminates the last major analog unsigned output. In case you haven't noticed, apple is no longer just a vendor of HW, but is also a media ecosystem especially as iOS is concerned. There's nothing "conspiratorial" in what I wrote. Revenues from media are highly depend on the ability to control it's distribution, if they aren't going to be subsidized by advertisement.

Edited 2017-10-07 01:16 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: DRM is the future
by grat on Sat 7th Oct 2017 21:04 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: DRM is the future"
grat Member since:
2006-02-02

Revenues also depend on sales.

Remember the furor when Apple gave everybody a copy of the new U2 single? That was a reaction to Apple giving something away for *free*.

Can you imagine the uproar if Apple stops letting you play your choice of audio on their phone?

It would be fiscal suicide.

My whole point about DRM and iTunes was that Apple had it (along with the few other stores at the time). They removed DRM, and saw huge benefits.

And while HDMI has DRM built in, to my knowledge, there is not a single HDMI component that refuses to pass an HDCP-free signal, which is the equivalent to what you're suggesting.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: DRM is the future
by zima on Sat 7th Oct 2017 17:25 UTC in reply to "RE: DRM is the future"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

When TPM came out, it was "proof" that Microsoft would block Linux from ever running on PC.

When UEFI / SecureBoot came out, it was a "fact" that this would prevent anyone besides Microsoft from installing an OS on your PC.

Neither came to pass. I have linux booting from UEFI, and by choice, have secureboot disabled, and TPM has uses, but not enough that most people bother purchasing the module.

And in fact TPM is used to probably greatest lengths by Linux PCs - Chromebooks.

Reply Score: 2

v Comment by ilovebeer
by ilovebeer on Fri 6th Oct 2017 04:09 UTC
RE: Comment by ilovebeer
by daedalus on Fri 6th Oct 2017 07:52 UTC in reply to "Comment by ilovebeer"
daedalus Member since:
2011-01-14

Of course not, but it makes the world a slightly worse place to be.

Reply Score: 5

RE: Comment by ilovebeer
by yoshi314@gmail.com on Fri 6th Oct 2017 08:19 UTC in reply to "Comment by ilovebeer"
yoshi314@gmail.com Member since:
2009-12-14

it won't be the end of the world, but it will be a major hassle for actual users.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Comment by ilovebeer
by ahferroin7 on Fri 6th Oct 2017 12:30 UTC in reply to "Comment by ilovebeer"
ahferroin7 Member since:
2015-10-30

It won't end the world, but it does make things more difficult for users (you shouldn't need to buy a 20 USD adapter cable just to charge your phone and use wired headphones at the same time), especially those of us who actually care about audio quality (bluetooth is crap for audio on average because almost nothing supports any decent codecs).

There's also the fact that the original claim by Apple as to why they were doing this is bogus in and of itself. Their 'official' argument involved waterproofing the phone, but it's absolutely possible to waterproof a phone that has a headphone jack (Nokia did it for years, and the cost in parts is less than 0.20 USD if you do it right).

Reply Score: 6

RE[2]: Comment by ilovebeer
by josehill on Sat 7th Oct 2017 10:08 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by ilovebeer"
josehill Member since:
2010-01-24

C'mon, adapters are Apple's fastest growing business!

Reply Score: 2

RE: Comment by ilovebeer
by ilovebeer on Fri 6th Oct 2017 14:23 UTC in reply to "Comment by ilovebeer"
ilovebeer Member since:
2011-08-08

@daedalus, @yoshi314@gmail.com:
Growing pains are just that but they don't last forever.

@ahferroin7:
The `quality` argument is not a real argument, it's a red herring.

Bluetooth may not be great for audio now, but again, that won't last forever - especially with a huge push to switch to bluetooth. It -will- get better.

Regarding Apple's reasoning for dumping the connector.. I've also read they wanted to reclaim some ever-so-valuable realty inside ever-more-compact cellphone innards. Both are legitimate & logical.

People are pissed. I get it. This change-over has not been well-planned. It's inconvenient. There's cost attached to the user in adapters. But this simply won't be the case forever. It's happening whether people like it or not. Look on the bright side. Very few is anyone actually needs a new cellphone, and no one is being forced to buy products that no longer support the connector. The truth is you DO have choice and you CAN let your opinion be heard through your purchasing decisions.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Comment by ilovebeer
by Morgan on Fri 6th Oct 2017 14:30 UTC in reply to "Comment by ilovebeer"
Morgan Member since:
2005-06-29

It's an inconvenience for those who choose Apple or Google products, but I agree it's not the end of the world. the 3.5mm and 1/4" jacks will exist long after any of us are still alive, given their prevalence in music production and preference among audiophile consumers (Bluetooth is terrible for audio quality).

Besides, the 3.5mm form factor is used for more than just music, it can also be used for serial communications and even analog video (aftermarket backup cameras in cars, for example).

Reply Score: 2

Comment by kurkosdr
by kurkosdr on Fri 6th Oct 2017 17:56 UTC
kurkosdr
Member since:
2011-04-11

So far, what has already being removed is:

1) MicroSD slots (replaced with expensive internal storage which also takes your photos with it, if the phone bricks itself)

2) Removable batteries (replaced with expensive deep surgery at some shop)

3) Headphone jacks (replaced with USB interface, necessitating an expensive DAC in every pair of headphones or a dongle)

What is on the way to removal:

- SIM slots (oh yeah, Manufacturers are already experimenting with e-SIMs)

The only consolation is that the only components which are not a spec list item and haven't been removed yet are the loudspeaker, the power button and the volume rocker buttons, hence it cannot possibly get why worse, on the virtue of not being much more stuff to remove.

PS: And what is annoying is that it IS possible to do analog audio over USB, my old Nikon camera does it. But then apple would have to ditch the myth of "it's digital so it's better" and offer a more bland explanation for the removal of the headphone jack (aka "we run out of millimetres and had to remove something").

Edited 2017-10-06 18:11 UTC

Reply Score: 5

Always Said Analogic Vital To Privacy...
by dionicio on Tue 10th Oct 2017 20:42 UTC
dionicio
Member since:
2006-07-12

They're Taking this on Heart.

Reply Score: 2