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Apple

On Apple pulling the plug

This evening (UK time), Apple will do the one thing that you can expect them to do every year; have a big September event where they announce the next iPhone. All else is speculation, but it seems like a near-certainty that the new iPhone will be faster, won't have a headphone socket, and will look pretty much the same as the iPhone 6/6s (and therefore there will be a medium and "plus" size model.) There will probably also be new Apple Watch news.

The removal of the headphone socket is probably going to be the most interesting piece of news, because it isn't exactly clear why its being removed. Its unlikely that the phone will be so thin that it won't fit - there still needs to be a decent slab of lithium battery in there. A second speaker might well take its place, but thats about what is filling the space left behind – not why there is a space opening up there in the first place. About 6 months worth of controlled leaks means that the tech press has been debating it for a while now though.1 I don't buy the argument that its just a way to sell something; Apple's priority is selling more iPhones, not more accessories. So the interesting question at the moment is what its being replaced with.

Most of the commentary I've seen has been around the idea of a lightning port adapter; the idea being that the phone will come with a normal, wired pair of headphones that will plug into the only remaining socket, and if you want to use them with something else (like, for example, your Macbook) you will use a little lightning-to-3.5mm adapter. But that seems like a tiny annoyance that will be incredibly easy to lose.

My guess is that Apple's story won't be about taking away the socket, but introducing something new. And I don't think the "something new" is likely to be about a different kind of wire. A few months ago, thanks to a new interest in exercise1 and after discovering that normal headphones tend to fall out of sweaty ears while running, I bought a cheap pair of wireless headphones. I wouldn't particularly recommend them - they are a bit uncomfortable, the sound isn't great for music (but fine for podcasts), but what I would recommend is the idea of wireless headphones. Take away the cable that runs from your ears to wherever your phone happens to be — whether in your hand, in a pocket, on your desk — means taking away an annoyance.

So my bet is that the headphone-socket-less iPhone won't come with a different pair of headphones to plug into a different socket, but a pair of headphones to not plug into a socket. That is, they will probably plug into the lightning socket to top up the battery while on the go (similar to how the iPad Pencil charges through the Lightning socket), but won't need to be plugged in to use them. Charging off the phone would be a compelling feature on its own.

What I'm hoping is that they will come in at a price point significantly lower than the current £170 starting point for Beats wireless headphones. They don't have to be ultra-cheap1, but something like £60-80 feels like a good balance between adding genuine value to what comes in the iPhone box and a reasonably priced accessory to sell to people who are going to be using an older iPhone for the next few years.

But what I'm really hoping (wishing?) for is something that takes the bluetooth headphone experience of pairing and unpairing with different devices (which is a real pain in the neck) and making it simple to switch between iPhone, iPad and Macbook (and Watch). I personally wouldn't be bothered if it was an Apple-only protocol1; maybe something like a Siri button, or a way to listen to music on a Macbook while talking to Siri on an iPhone could be an interesting feature. But just a wireless system that lets me switch devices from the device that has a touchscreen/keyboard and mouse/usable UI instead of three buttons and a tiny LED. That would be very helpful.1

But if Apple are taking away a socket and expecting every iPhone user to replacing it with a different plug, I will be pretty disappointed.


For the watch, I'm hoping for something different; a new "Sport Plus" Watch "collection" that has built-in GPS (that will probably be a horrible drain on the battery), and the old Watch and Sport "collections" sticking around for a while longer. Not because of any kind of strategic vision or anything like that (although I have suspected since the parallel launch of a £259 and £5,000 with identical computers inside them that they aren't planning on any significant internal hardware shake-ups for the Watch line), but because I just got the original Sport model for a birthday present and I'd be a little bit sad if it was replaced with something I want more so soon. But thats really my problem, not Apple's…



  1. I wrote a post about it back in January, for what thats worth. I haven't seen much marketing around the wired Beats headphones since then though – but the wireless ones have had pretty prominent positioning in Apple stores.




  2. Well, an interest in not dying young that has expressed itself through trying to build a new exercise habit, which works out as more or less the same thing.




  3. My £15 bluetooth headphones are probably a false economy, but I find shopping for headphones at the best of times.




  4. Although it would be even more helpful for the wireless speaker we have in the kitchen that might be used by about 6 diffent devices in the household.




  5. Because of my employers' security policies, I seem to need to have admin rights for my work PC if I want to connect my bluetooth headphones to it for office listening, so my headphones are effectively Apple-only as I only use them with my phone and my laptop anyway.



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WWDC 2013: $8 million in less than 2 minutes

WWDC- Apple’s annual developer conference for anyone who wants to stay ahead of the game when it comes to all things related to iOS and OSX development.

$1,600 a ticket. About 5,000 attendees (the capacity of the conference centre where its held). Videos and slides are made available to all registered developers afterwards (for which you pay a fee of something like $80 a year, which you need to do if you want to get apps in the App Store.) And unlike Googles I/O conference, they don't have a history of giving away free gadgets. You get admission, and that is all.

Last year, it sold out in 2 hours, when dates were announced and tickets went on sale at the same time.

This year, dates for the conference and ticket release time were announced together earlier this week. And tickets just sold out in less than 2 minutes.

If you're wondering if developers are losing interest in Apple's platforms, then the fact that 5,000 of them just collectively handed over about $8 million just to hear what they have to say *in person* might be a relevant data point to bear in mind.

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