Apple iPhone 7 Kickstarts the Jackless Age for the Audio Industry

September 7 2016, 19:45
There were hardly any surprises at the Apple scheduled event in San Francisco. Just a sequential confirmation of all the rumors that had already been circulating for a while. This doesn’t mean that Apple didn’t deliver on the expected performance, design and the highest engineering level in all the new products announced, from the Apple Watch Series 2, to the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, all the way to a full range of audio accessories from Apple and Beats, including the new wireless Airpods and the fact that we now have officially entered the “jackless age”. 
 

Maybe the surprise was there, because Apple’s new truly wireless Airpods are now the new reference for the whole industry, and they’re not easy to beat. And maybe also because Apple didn’t even discussed how, replacing the venerable 3.5mm analog jack for the Lightning connector opens-up a whole world of opportunities for headphone manufacturers willing to explore the full benefits of that connector and interface. In fact, for the moment, all we know is that the Airpods will be optional, and that the iPhone will ship with Earpods with Lightning connector and a Lightning to 3.5mm headphone jack adapter - which will cost $9 when sold separately. And Apple will sell many of these…

As for the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, “the best, most advanced iPhone ever” (it had better be), we now know it is packed with improvements, like new advanced camera systems, more power and performance, improved battery life, better stereo speakers, new beautiful finishes (glossy black is back!), and, most importantly, it is the first water and dust resistant iPhone. The iPhone 7 new stereo speakers are described as “two times louder than iPhone 6s, offering increased dynamic range of sound and a higher quality speakerphone.” This will certainly benefit from the entirely reengineered and more rigid enclosure.
 

Inside, there is the new A10 Fusion chip, which is also responsible for improving battery life. The A10 features four cores: two high-performance cores that run up to two times faster than iPhone 6, and two high-efficiency cores that are capable of running at just one-fifth the power of the high-performance cores. Graphics performance is also more powerful, running up to three times faster than iPhone 6 at as little as half the power. And because people will want to store more pictures and music than ever, now Apple offers the iPhone 7 in 256GB capacity. The Retina HD display is also stunning, with a wider color gamut, while the iPhone cameras will now be able to rival even DSLR cameras - and we’ll leave it at that.

iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus will be available in more than 25 countries beginning Friday, September 16 and they will ship with the new iOS 10, which means we all get to upgrade our iPhones very soon.

New AirPods
Apple’s innovative new wireless headphones are the most intriguing thing to come out of the September 7 event. They are extremely advanced, but the design is totally unexpected, with the now familiar shape of Apple’s earbuds combined with an extension rod pointing down, making the devices look like earrings. I guess no manufacturer in the industry had even considered the shape, but maybe it will become another of Jon Ive’s icons, who knows? The reason for the prolonged shape becomes clear when we understand the amount of technology contained in the AirPods.
 

First there is the new Apple W1 chip, providing AirPods with extremely efficient wireless communication, improved sound and up to 5 hours of battery life. They were also designed to work with Siri, allowing users to access Apple’s personal assistant with just a double tap. This means, there are sensors all over the AirPods. But the reason for the shape also has to do with the design of the charging case.
 
By just flipping open the lid of the AirPods charging case and with one tap, they are instantly set up and ready to work with the iPhone and Apple Watch or any device signed into the user’s iCloud account, including iPads and Macs. Advanced sensors know when the user is wearing them and listening and automatically play and pause the music. They also intelligently switch from a call on the iPhone to listening to music on the Apple Watch, which means they are ready to work simultaneously with more than one paired device. Are they standard Bluetooth? Apple did not yet provide detailed specs and we just know that they use a “high-quality” AAC streaming profile.

The all new Apple W1 chip enables the use of dual optical sensors and accelerometers in each AirPod - and yes they are dedicated left and right units, another important feature in the design. An additional accelerometer in each AirPod detects when the user is speaking, enabling a pair of beam-forming microphones - placed at the end of the extension rod - to focus on the sound of the voice, filtering out external noise. Another reason for Apple to design the dedicated Apple W1 chip has to do with its low power, operating at one-third of the power of traditional wireless chips. AirPods will deliver up to 5 hours of listening time on one charge and the custom-designed charging case holds additional power, for more than 24 hours of total charge. 15 minutes inside the case and the AirPods will deliver another 3 hours of listening time.
 

The new Apple-designed wireless AirPods including charging case will be available for $159 (US) from Apple.com and Apple Stores beginning in late October. They will require Apple devices running the latest operating systems, iOS 10, watchOS 3 or macOS Sierra.
www.apple.com
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