Apple seems be having a hard time being the first to the market for new features. Last year it was rumored that the iPhone 6s/6s Plus would have pressure-sensitive displays, but Huawei beat them to the punch (albeit with not much fanfare). This year’s iPhone 7 is rumored to drop the headphone jack but LeEco managed to get there first.
That being said while pressure-sensitive displays haven’t exactly caught on yet, the idea of dropping the headphone jack could. Recently at their Shenzhen developer forum this month, Intel threw their support behind the idea that the standard 3.5mm headphone jack should be dropped in favor of connections like USB-C.
While there is nothing wrong with the 3.5mm audio jack, Intel seems to want to move forward to a more digital world. The current standard is analog, but switching to USB-C would allow for a digital connection, thus potentially offering up higher quality and “cleaner” audio. However in addition to that, connectivity via USB-C could also allow for headphones to track health data like your body temperature and so on.
Of course how many OEMs will hop on board that idea remains to be seen, but with Intel’s support maybe more companies might consider the idea. That being said there are plenty of vinyl and tube amp lovers out there, so while digital does seem like the future, the love for analog is still pretty strong.