Apple may have taken away the headphone jack, but now, it appears that they are actively stopping third-party companies from bringing it back.
This all started in 2016 when Apple announced that the iPhone 7 would no longer have a headphone jack. I wrote a post calling for third-party case manufacturers to design a battery case that brought the headphone jack back. To my surprise, just a few months later I was contacted by multiple companies who were developing cases that did just that.
In December 2016, we filmed a video with the world's first iPhone 7 case with a working headphone jack. The case worked perfectly and we expected it to come to market in the near future but for some unknown reason, it never did. We reached out this manufacturer multiple times and never got a response. Other cases with headphone jacks started popping up around the web; some prototype reviews and others were on crowdfunding sites. From what I can tell, none of these cases ever made it to market either.
Fast forward to the iPhone X launch. My iPhone 6s' battery was almost useless and the update to IOS 11 crippled its speed. I decided to preorder the iPhone X even though I knew I would miss the headphone jack. I checked Amazon and to my surprise, there was a battery case with a headphone jack up for pre-order for $80. I bought it.
A few weeks later I got the phone and the case, and it worked! I could listen to music without a dongle and I could charge my phone at the same time. On the same day that I received the case in the mail I got an email from Amazon telling me that they were refunding me for my new case. They didn't ask me to mail it back or tell me why, they just gave me my $80 back. The listing for the case was completely removed from Amazon as well.
The highest rated case on Amazon with a headphone jack works via Bluetooth and it must be charged separately. That's such a ridiculous workaround.
At this point, I realized that something had to be going on. I started to try to contact every headphone case manufacturer I could find to figure out what was happening. Not a single one of them responded to me.
Later that month I updated my phone and the case stopped working. It now shows the error "This accessory is not supported by this device." Apple shut it down.
I understand that Apple likes to keep their ecosystem closed for quality control and that they are now licensing the lightning port out to third-party accessory makers. I know for a fact that the case manufacturer that we initially had contact with was going through this process. They told us that they were waiting on Apple's approval.
I think it's fair to say that Apple is blocking this type of accessory and I can't figure out why. Are they trying to sell more wireless headphones? If so, why include a free dongle in the box? Why did every case manufacturer stop responding to us? Does Apple have something to do with that too?
I'm sure that 99.9% of the people reading this don't care about the headphone jack at all, but that's not the point. The point is that it appears that once again Apple is actively trying to block third-party manufacturers from creating products that the public wants. Can you imagine if they blocked USB type A adapters for the new Macbooks? Just because Apple thinks that USB Type C is the future doesn't mean all of their customers are ready. If Apple wants to remove a feature from one of their products, that's their decision. But if a third party company is willing to pay them to license the port so that they can bring it back, Apple should welcome the extra cash and happy users.
If anyone has any additional information on this story I would love to hear it. Please leave a comment below.