Apple is not a company to shy away from proprietary connectors, and while the use of non-standard interfaces may be a death sentence for smaller manufacturers, Apple’s got the loyal user base and market share to act unilaterally – and get away with it. We saw that with the Lightning connector introduced for the iPhone 5, and now a new patent has us wondering if Apple is planning another push for another new “standard,” as it develops a thinner, D-shaped alternative to existing 3.5mm headphone jacks.
Space is at a priority on modern smartphones, and right now the headphone jack is one thing you just can’t make much thinner: no matter what corners you cut, it still has to be large enough to fit that 3.5mm plug. What Apple did with this new patent is take a knife to that plug and slice its cross section down to a “D” shape. While the patent allows for some leeway with precise measurements, one example Apple gives starts with a 2.5mm subminiature plug, and slices it down to just 2mm thick.
While this only-fits-one-way D-shaped orientation may seem like a step backwards from current designs, Apple insists that this system is very intuitive and results in “a smooth, consistent feel when [the plug is] inserted and extracted.”
As of now, we haven’t seen any evidence to suggest that Apple’s about to actually implement this connector, but it could certainly be a possibility further down the line. If that day ever comes, you may find yourself stuck buying new iPhone-only headphones, or at the very least, picking up a new adapter for your existing pair.