Apple’s newest iPhone will not include the headphone jack, meaning a number of issues for the radio industry.
In everyday terms it means a Lightning-to-3.5mm adapter, available inside the box of every new iPhone 7, will need to be used to plug in existing earphones or headphones.
But this same adapter will also need to be used in cars which don’t have Bluetooth connectivity, which could put a dampener on in-car radio streaming via iPhone unless the adapter goes everywhere the iPhone 7 does. And even if people use the adaptor to listen to music in car via an FM transmitter or line/aux in, it means it can’t be on charge at the same time. And with a growing number of people using their iPhone for navigation, listening to audio will simply take a back seat.
Apple will be encouraging users to go wireless, with the introduction of AirPods. This squashes any hope of an FM or DAB chip being switched on inside the iPhone because without a headphone wire, there’s no aerial.
But for audio manufacturers targeting radio presenters and reports, it could cause major problems with equipment already on sale. IK Multimedia produce a number items which use the headphone jack to feed a microphone into the iPhone for use in live and pre-recorded location interviews and feeds.
Some of the iRig range connects a microphone or pre-amp to the iPhone via the 3.5mm socket, whilst their latest product, the iKlip A/V helps transmit live voice and video back to the studio, or live on social media, via the headphone jack. Maybe this can be re-issued with a Lightning plug?
As well as an adaptor, every iPhone 7 will come with Lightning Earpods. Apple’s Phil Schiller said it takes “courage” to move on from the longstanding 3.5mm headphone jack, and that the space inside the iPhone is at a premium.
The best advice is if you use audio recording equipment for radio via the headphone socket – just don’t buy a new iPhone!
It’s not all bad news though, the iPhone 7 also comes with stereo speakers for the first time ever – something the operators of mono radio stations should take note of.
Roy Martin is Managing Editor of RadioToday.