Code strings in iOS 9 hint at move away from headphone jacks, future optical networking
Connectivity options for smartphones are going through some big changes right now. USB type-C is making its presence felt on Android and Windows 10 Mobile alike, and while right now that means some bumpy periods of adjustment (how many times have you needed to charge your type-C phone and couldn’t find a suitable adapter lying around?), that’s one change that promises to bring us into a bright future full of broad cable interoperability. Apple users may be facing some serious shifts in cable connectivity, as well, and one of the most prolific (to say nothing of controversial) rumors concerning the upcoming iPhone 7 has suggested that Apple could kill off the ubiquitous analog headphone jack in an effort to slim-down handset size. And while we’ve heard plenty of rumors along that line, actual evidence has been hard to come by. It may not be a slam dunk, but some code strings in recent iOS 9 builds might just add support to this no-headphone-jack theory, while also cluing us in to a interesting new communication method possible for future Apple devices.
That first bit code in iOS 9.3 beta 1.1 references a “Headphones have input” field while providing the option for “NO.” If Apple did indeed remove the headphone jack for the iPhone 7, software would presumably call a routine related to this string that would let apps no whether or not they could expect traditional audio connectivity.
As for that new communication method, a string uncovered in iOS 9.1 mentions “LiFi Capability.” Unlike the radio-based WiFi, LiFi is a system that uses light to transmit its data, taking advantage of the wide spectrum available to hit some seriously high speeds – in the hundreds of gigabits per second.
While it’s far too early to say what interest Apple might have in LiFi, we could conceivably be looking at future iOS devices that use LiFi to communicate with other hardware in their vicinity, while avoiding possible interference with RF-sensitive equipment users might find in hospitals or industry settings.