Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is well known for providing a seamless user experience between the various products and services found in its ecosystem and the close alignment between its software and hardware is one of the main reasons why the company has some of the industry’s most loyal users. However, when it comes to non-Apple devices, the compatibility of the Cupertino-based company’s products with the rest of the tech world is less than user-friendly. Apple’s tendency to march to the beat of its own drummer has given birth to an entire third-party industry that makes products to convert Apple’s unique proprietary connectors to the more commonly used industry-wide standards.
Apple’s unique Lightning connector means that users who want to connect their iDevices to a non-Apple computer must first purchase a cable that will convert a Lightning connector to one of the USB (Universal Serial Bus) standards used by most other manufacturers. So far this necessity has been limited to situations when an Apple user needs to transfer data or charge their device via a USB plug. However, as recently noted by 9to5Mac, a newly introduced specification for Apple’s Made-For-iPod/iPhone/iPad Program (MFi Program) allows third-party manufacturers to make headphones that use a Lightning connector instead of the familiar 3.5 millimeter headphone jack.
While Apple’s proprietary connectors may currently help lock its users into the company’s ecosystem, a Lightning headphone connector may also actually provide better audio quality than a standard headphone jack. As noted by 9to5Mac, Lightning headphones will be capable of outputting lossless audio at up to 48 kHz. Lightning headphones would also be capable of inputting mono digital audio at 48 kHz, which means that headphones equipped with microphones could operate through a single connection.