The United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) on Tuesday awarded Apple a patent for magnetically detachable earbuds for an iPhone that could work in both wired and wireless mode. The invention is of particular interest in light of the rumor that the next iPhone will ditch the 3.5mm headphone jack in favor of Lightning-enabled and wireless Bluetooth headphones.
The proposed device would use two cables, one to connect the headphones together in wireless mode (like the connecting cable found on the Beats Solo2 wireless headphones) and the other to connect the headphones to a host device in wired mode.
In wired mode, that cable would connect magnetically to headphones and would also be used to recharge the headphones. Detach the cable and the headphones would automatically switch to wireless listening mode.
“Broadly speaking, the embodiments described herein relate to a media apparatus that can be used in conjunction with a host device to provide an end user a pleasurable listening experience especially during periods of physical activity,” writes Apple.
“In the described embodiments, the host device can take the form of a portable media player. In particular, the media apparatus can include a listening device.”
The patent was first filed for in March 2011 and credits Apple engineer Jorge Fino as its inventor.