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USB group posted a standard new audio spec for USB-C's could rid of your headphone jack

It look like Apple has a good move for its iPhone 7 removing headphone jack- It's an instructive lesson to any company with less than a billion users of its products or services: no matter how good you may already be, there's always the potential to do better, and if you're not willing to change and do the scary new thing, someone else will. Adapt or die. So let’s take a look at the good, the bad and the future of what USB Type-C audio is going to mean for smartphone and music enthusiasts.

The USB Implementers Forum has published its long-expected Audio Device Class 3.0 specification, giving device makers the standard they need to pipe sound through USB-C ports on everything from phones to PCs. And the organization isn't shy about its goals, either -- this is mainly about letting companies removing the ages-old 3.5mm port, according to the Forum. In theory, that means slimmer devices, better water resistance and opening the "door to innovation" through room for other features.

We're not sure everyone will buy that last argument, but there are some advantages to the spec that are worthwhile even if the headphone jack is here to stay. Aside from offering better digital audio support (such as headphones with custom audio processing), the USB-C sound spec improves on earlier USB approaches with power-saving measures and keyword detection. In other words: a company could take advantage of USB audio without hurting your battery life as much as before, and it should be easier to implement voice recognition.

This doesn't mean that every company will embrace 3.5mm-free hardware with the same enthusiasm as Apple or Motorola. After all, Samsung used its Galaxy Note 7 introduction to make a not-so-subtle dig at Apple's then-rumored decision to drop the headphone jack on the iPhone 7. However, the USB-C spec may nudge vendors who were thinking about ditching the conventional audio socket and were just waiting for official support to make their move.

Right now, it’s unclear whether or not USB will fully be able to replace the 3.5mm jack in the smartphone market. It’s also unclear as to whether or not this is just a phase, or if the two will remain active side by side going forward. Companies like Intel are still looking to develop a USB Type-C audio standard to ensure a similar feature set and compatibility across these type of headphones.

I know that it wasn’t that long ago that Samsung, Nokia, and other early smartphone manufacturers all had their own proprietary headphone connectors. However, customers may not be so willing to give up the recently won convenience of the 3.5mm jack.

The alternative to both the 3.5mm and USB audio connections is to make the move over to wireless. Bluetooth headphones are reasonably priced these days and sidestep some of the compatibility issues that will likely face USB Type-C headphones. A further drive towards USB Type-C headphones might makes these products more popular. However, the lossy compression formats used to transmit wireless Bluetooth audio won’t appeal the pickiest audiophiles out there.

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