iPhone 7 launch: Apple gambles on headphone jack and introduces new Apple Watch

New design paired with release of AirPods that represents characteristic gamble for tech firm in bid to outpace rivals and usher in wireless listening

Apple signed the death warrant for the headphone port on Wednesday, ushering in what it hopes is a tangle-free era of wireless listening. But the move is a bold one for Apple, and one that tech pundits predict could repel consumers.

The worlds biggest tech company had been widely expected to kill off the headphone jack at the a launch of the iPhone 7 in San Francisco. The 138-year-old technology will be replaced by headsets that plug into the devices Lightning connector, which is also used for charging.

The change allowed Apple to make the new iPhone slimmer and waterproof. Unusually for Apple, notorious for its tight control on its PR, the iPhones details leaked briefly just before the presentation by way of Amazon.com, which posted its page of iPhone 7 accessories including specs on the phone, and by Apple tweets that appear to have gone out ahead of plans. The presentation lacked Apples traditional one more thing at the end and did not include news about Apples lines of computers or tablets. Shares were down 0.23% from the beginning of the day to the end of the presentation.

While consumers will be able to use their old headphones via an adapter, which will come with the new phone, or plug in a new set, the ultimate aim may be to push consumers to snip those tangle-prone wires altogether for a wireless headset preferably one made by Beats, the company Apple bought for $3bn in 2014.

The latest iPhone launch is crucial for Apple, which has seen sales of the device slip amid ever fiercer competition. In July the company recorded its second consecutive quarter of revenue decline, breaking a streak of uninterrupted growth since 2003.

Tim
Apple CEO Tim Cook discusses the new iPhone during the launch event in San Francisco. Photograph: Beck Diefenbach/Reuters

Chief executive Tim Cook is gambling that Apple can regain its edge by ditching old technology before its rivals. At the event, Phil Schiller, senior vice-president of worldwide marketing, said: It really comes down to one word: courage. The courage to move on and do something new that betters us.

Apple has a really good track record of removing features were used to having, whether its an ethernet port or a disk drive, said Julie Ask of Forrester Research. Consumers are asking for things to be more water-resistant and more waterproof. If Apple does it the way Apple typically does things, in two years well be like: Why did we ever do it that way?

Others are skeptical. Taking the headphone jack off phones is user-hostile and stupid, wrote the Verge editor-in-chief Nilay Patel.

Over 303,000 people have signed an online petition attacking Apple for forcing consumers to buy new headsets and creating mountains of electronic waste that likely wont get recycled. According to the United Nations, up to 90% of the worlds electronic waste is illegally traded or dumped each year.

But Apple has a strong technological case for updating the headphone jack, which can trace its origins back to at least 1878 and was originally used in old-fashioned telephone switchboards.

Apple announced another new product on Wednesday AirPods, a pair of earplug-sized headphones that Schiller said use a new kind of chip to deliver a magical experience without the usual hassle of BlueTooth pairing and unpairing.

The company also added features to its camera system, which now includes two front-facing lenses that allow true telephoto zoom instead of simply picture-enlargement and new workarounds for low-light photography and other perks.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/sep/07/apple-iphone-no-headphone-jack-second-generation-watch

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