This week, Apple was granted a patent for a new type of earbud that works wirelessly and with a traditional jack.
Awarded by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Tuesday, Apple's US Patent No. 9,277,309 for a "Detachable wireless listening device" describes a pair of headphones that features two cables that connect magnetically. One cable connects the EarPods together with a magnetic section in the center while the other can connect the EarPods' cable to a 3.5 mm jack. According to the patent, the EarPod cable is its own Bluetooth headset that must be charged but, when linked to the second cable, they work as traditional headphones, though they may be limited to the iPhone. The EarPod cable can charge while plugged in to the headphone jack using the magnetic connectors which also work as charging connectors. This patent was first filed back in 2011 and it is unclear if Apple plans to use this technology.
Earlier reports claimed that Apple was planning to kill the 3.5 mm headphone jack with its upcoming iPhone. Back in November, Mac Otakara reported that the iPhone 7 will not feature a headphone jack in favor of a Lightning-only system or all wireless system. As part of a Lightning-only transition, Apple is said to be planning a digital-to-analog converter for its EarPods headset. Apple already offers some Lightning-enabled audio equipment, including Lightning-compatible headphones via the Beats by Dre brand. If Apple does remove the headphone jack with the iPhone 7, it is expected to replace it with a second speaker for stereo sound. Apple has not commented on these reports at this time.
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