What We Lose When The Headphone Jack is Gone

It’s growing clearer by the day that the end of the headphone jack is almost at hand. In their dying days, we should realize that something of minor beauty will be lost when they’re fully gone.

Apple’s grudge against headphone jacks was rumored for a long time before they dropped it in 2016 and shipped iPhone 7 phones without jacks. To placate critics, they included an adapter that connected the lightning port to a headphone jack.

Apple wasn’t the first phone company to forgo the once universal audio input but, since they’re the most influential company in tech, their decision had considerable impact. Shortly after the iPhone 7, several Android devices came on the market sans headphone jack.

Earlier this month, Apple rumor-chasing tech sites claimed with convincing confidence that Apple was burying the headphone jack even deeper. Rumor has it that next year’s iPhones will ship without the headphone jack adapter.

Apple is clearly interested in wireless earbuds and headphones. That’s clearly what the future holds. But with losing the headphone jack, we’re losing more than a hole for a wire.

The universal headphone jack was a rare example of shared technology that allows seamless sharing among otherwise disparate devices. If you bought a pair of headphones, it’d be compatible with expensive, advanced technology, like professional recording equipment or an airplane. It was the key to jerry-rigging home stereo equipment for experimental home recordings and sound effects.

When headphone jacks are universal, it’s like everyone easily has a key to thousands of devices. When personal audio systems rely on proprietary technology, too many people get locked out.

But at least we never have to worry about getting tangled in wires when we lose our Bluetooth headphones.