New USB-C Spec Could Spell the End of Headphone Jacks


Apple isn't the only one who wants to say farewell to the 3.5mm headphone jack.

The USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) last week announced new specs that pave the way for audio to be transmitted via USB-C ports.

"Device manufacturers can eliminate the need for multiple ports and efficiently deliver data, power and video over a single connector with USB Type-C and USB Power Delivery," the USB-IF said in a statement. "To further support a single-cable solution, USB Audio over USB Type-C provides a standardized approach to deliver compelling user benefits, device interoperability and ease-of-use across all digital audio applications."

For more than 100 years, the 3.5mm headphone jack has been the preferred way for users to connect a headset and listen to music and other audio on a device. Billions of products around the world connect to devices through the ubiquitous port. With the iPhone 7 lineup, however, Apple ditched the headphone jack in favor of its Lightning connector (pictured) to save space.

While a number of major Android phone makers have embraced USB-C for charging, they have yet to eliminate the 3.5mm port (Samsung even criticized Apple for doing it when revealing its troubled Note 7). The USB-IF, however, might help move the transition along. The group says removing the headphone jacks can reduce product sizes by a millimeter and "open the door for innovation in countless ways and make it easier to design waterproof or water-resistant devices."

"USB is the simplest and most pervasive connector available today, making USB Type-C the logical choice for the future of digital audio," Jeff Ravencraft, USB-IF President and COO, said in a statement. "We encourage companies interested in adopting USB specifications to take advantage of USB-IF resources to reduce time-to-market and deliver reliable USB products."

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