Apple patent (flexible headphone connector, drawing 003)

Yet more encouraging news that Apple is designing its devices for users, rather than engineers. The original designs of headphone connectors were brittle, permitting headphones to be inserted and removed at perfect right angles. However an Apple patent application published Thursday outlines flexible headphone connectors.

In other words, you’ll likely be able to wrap plugged-in headphones around your favorite iDevice without harming the hardware. The invention doesn’t come too soon – the headphone jack is seen as the one roadblock to creating thinner, more svelte iPhones…

The patent application titled ‘Flexible TRS connector’ describes a “flexible material that allows the connector to bend with respect to an insertion axis and prevent the connector from breaking when inserted or extracted improperly.”

Once the strain is removed, the headphone plug will return to its original shape.

Apple patent (flexible headphone connector, drawing 004)

While the patent could help iPhone users who casually insert and remove their headphones, the addition of elastic components will also make for easier future designs.

In 2010, Apple filed to patent headphone jacks using a pogo pin – a design change permitting thinner and smaller devices. In the iPhone 5 the headphone jack dominated the device’s thickness, becoming the sole limitation to potential further shrinkage.