While Intel agrees the 3.5mm headphone jack’s days are numbered, it wants to replace it with its own USB-C Digital Audio technology.
The plans were announced during the Intel Developers Forum (IDF) in Shenzhen, China, where the semiconductor manufacturer set out its project to develop USB Type-C Digital Audio. Intel remained vague about the digital conversion, but set out broad aims to update the USB Audio Device 2.0 protocol specifications to include up-to-date audio features, while simplifying discovery and improving power management, with plans to release the revised specification in the second quarter this year.
Intel sees the new USB-C audio spec replacing the traditional audio jack on laptops, smartphones, and tablets, ushering in a fully-digital audio era. A switch to USB-C, (or Apple’s Lightning platform), would offer higher-quality audio, additional remote control features for headsets, biometric health tracking, and a way to supply additional power for headset that offer features such as noise-cancelling.
Intel’s announcement comes as rumors continue to circulate that Apple’s upcoming “iPhone 7” handset will remove the 3.5mm headphone jack, in favor of using its proprietary Lightning port for the device’s audio needs.