updated 10:01 am EDT, Wed June 4, 2014
Lightning audio expected to be activated in iOS 7 update
Apple has produced a new Made-for-i specification allowing manufacturers to make headphones that connect via a Lightning cable instead of a 3.5mm headphone jack, a report says. The technology is currently unsupported in iOS, but Apple will allegedly be updating iOS 7 with support sometime later.
One advantage of using Lightning is that headphones will be able to output lossless, 48kHz stereo sound, and send 48kHz mono back to a device via mic input. On top of this the technology should enable more advanced remotes -- for instance, with buttons assigned to opening specific apps -- or even permit tailoring headphones to those apps, which could be launched automatically when a Lightning cable is plugged in. Headphones may further receive firmware updates.
Since Lightning is capable of transmitting power, headphones could draw on an iOS device for power or even vice versa, so long as the headphones have a sufficient internal battery or a passthrough.
Apple is said to be dividing Lightning headphones into two categories: Standard ones using minimal components, and Advanced ones incorporating digital audio processing features such as active noise cancellation. Standard sets must use a Wolfson digital-to-analog converter.
Rumors have claimed that Apple is developing Lightning-based EarPods and/or planning to enable higher-quality audio in iOS 8. The technology could theoretically make it into future Beats headphones, but one risk is that people will be unwilling to buy units that only work with Apple products.