According to a report tonight from 9to5Mac, Apple has quietly introduced a new specification for accessory manufacturers in its MFi program. The spec allows them to create headphones that connect to devices using a Lightning cable instead of 3.5mm.

The change will allow for a new breed of headphones that are capable of handling lossless stereo 48 kHz digital audio output, and have access to headphone remote controls. And Apple plans to activate support in newer iOS devices in a future update…

From 9to5Mac’s Jordan Kahn:

The Lightning headphones will be capable of receiving lossless stereo 48 kHz digital audio output from Apple devices and sending mono 48 kHz digital audio input. The input means that the headphones will also support a microphone for audio input following Apple’s upcoming update. Manufacturers will be able to take advantage of Apple Headphone Remote controls like Volume Up/Down/etc, as well as other buttons for launching specific apps such as iTunes Radio or initiating playback controls on iOS. In addition, the headphones can be made to work specifically with a companion iOS app and launch a specific app when connected to an iOS device.

Kahn adds that the spec comes in two variations: Standard and Advanced. Standard Lightning headphones use minimum components, and the Advanced headphone specification allows for much more complex features such as active noise cancellation.

Beats Pro

This is all very interesting for a few reasons. For one, Apple just bought Beats Electronics, which specializes in high-end headphones that could really take advantage of the new spec. And two, the company has been rumored to be working on hi-res audio.

There’s no word yet on when these Lightning headphones will begin hitting the market. But again, once they do become available, it sounds like Apple will be able to flip a switch on in current Lightning devices, via a software update, that will enable support.

  • Felipe Lopez

    Big things are coming!

  • Sokrates

    Apple is rollin’

  • diggitydang

    Cool. But wait… What happens when you have to charge your phone while listening to music? Hmmmmm…

    • Andy

      I can see it now… a headphone that also charges your phone while you listen to music.

      • Martynet

        with a solar panel inside the head band

      • TDD140

        Such an epic idea!

      • 空白

        Pretty decent idea.

    • Chindavon

      Good point. Maybe it’s an indication of REAL wireless charging in the works?

  • GaugePrower

    This may be foreshadowing the 3.5mm jack eventually getting dropped because a later-gen iPhone will be too thin for one. Although maybe that would be too thin of a device to hold comfortably

    • possible but not any time soon because many devices around the world still use 3.5 mm jack…..

      • GaugePrower

        They could easily just make a lightning to 3.5mm audio adapter, just like the adapters they have made for 30 pin to lightning, magsafe 1 to magsafe 2, thunderbolt to ethernet, etc.

        But, Idk I think a device that is thinner than 3.5mm would bee to thin to hold comfortably.

    • More likely Apple would call the 3.5mm jack legacy and make a Lightning adapter for it. It’s not a bad idea to cut costs and streamline the product in my opinion.

    • 5ingularity

      Apple would then have almost an monopoly on lightning(even though its Intel Technology) headphones. I know that i wouldn’t buy a $350 pair of beats. If they are going to thin it down, they are at least going with a mini version of the jack that is seen on a lot of the older phones, but what good does that do, how thin is thin enough, i feel that a phone needs some weight and can’t be too thin, too thin and too light, just doesn’t feel too right

      • Adam Reber

        I thought it was Thunderbolt that was Intel…

  • denden

    It might be a few years/gen’s away, but this will be the end of the 3.5 jack in iDevices.

  • Makaveli6103

    I want to be able to connect a DAC to the iPhone. Hopefully this will allow that.

    • Well it is sorta based on the USB-2 spec so it should be possible. Not sure why Apple couldn’t just improve the onboard DAC seeing it’s one of the best in the mobile phone market to date.

  • OrangeCone

    This is the new era!! 3.5mm jack its on the way of being in the past like the floppy sand cd drive.

  • Chindavon

    Apple starting the HD audio revolution.

  • 空白

    Yikes! I’m all for ditching tech that’s outdated but idk if Apple would really drop a standard like the 3.5… That’s kinda like saying buy Beats or don’t listen to music.

    • iFone

      Didn’t you read? It says a MFi specifications so ANY headphone manufacturer can make such headphones. In no way Apple is going to MAKE you buy one.

      • 空白

        Lol… Did you read my comment? I was mostly responding to other commenters who were speculating that, ‘this puts an end to 3.5 on future iDevices’, not the entire article.

      • iFone

        Don’t you know how to write? I was replying to your comment “That’s kinda like saying buy Beats or don’t listen to music”. Again, lightning headphones would be open to everyone, not just Beats, thus making your comment irrelevant

      • 空白

        What’s your issue? Don’t you know how to think? What you’re saying to me is exactly what I’m saying to you. Or are you just the annoying/combative type of Internet personality? I don’t have time to argue. So let me bid you adieu.

      • iFone

        No issue, but if you cannot support what you write then don’t write at all. If you write on Internet expect criticism. Bye

  • “high end headphones”

  • Ahmed Karoui

    What if they’re doing this just to decrease the number of “holes” in the iPhone in order to make it Water Resistant ?

  • I can already see the headlines; my beats headphone connector got rusty and no longer works.

  • Singhal

    Why to do away with 3.5mm jack. The current charging point should be modified to connect headphones. And thus also use the 3.5mm port to listen other systems.

  • Kash Gummaraju

    Wow another plan by Apple to steal more money out of consumer pockets. This is the most irrational and inconvenient scheme yet. Now they’ll charge upwards of 50 dollars for an adapter once they remove the 3.5mm jack. This will also result in the EU suing Apple for disrupting the universal standard.

    • eminem10

      apple is above the universal standard

      • Kash Gummaraju

        So you’re telling me you’re willing to buy an adapter from Apple for 50 dollars if you buy a pair of headphones upwards of 60 dollars? Great you’ve spent a totalo of 150 dollars, which you could’ve bought a even nicer pair. Happy savings.

  • Sleetui

    I think I see a typo *squints… Yep definitely a typo. “specializes in high-end headphones”. That is technically wrong in so many ways. Beat’s, a high end headphone… Bullshit. They aren’t even considered “high-end”. I know “high-end”. B&W ARE “high-end”. Beat’s are simply products that produce horrible sound quality, muddy bass and cheap quality covered in color. Sold for an unreasonable price. My 100 dollar earphones sound incredible compared to these crap. People buy it via advertising and looks… and if they do buy it for sound then they probably only “think” it’s good. I’d rather pay a cheap headphone from China than this crap. Apple is smart for buying them since they make even more profit and popularity but calling Beat’s “high-end” is overrated.

    • Terry Wong

      the cable will flash with the music rhythm.
      Please contact me to test the MFI earphones/ headphones.

      skype: terrygraciase

  • Terry Wong

    the cable will flash with music rhythm.