The most controversial feature of the new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus is something they lack: a headphone jack. Apple claimed the omission took “courage” and talked up an all digital future built around the Lightning port. But this future is not off to a good start!
Following the sapphire controversy, Business Insider reports iPhone 7 owners have found Apple’s new Lightning EarPods regularly ‘crash’. This leaves users still able to hear music, but the EarPod’s controls are frozen so you are unable to operate their volume controls or use the shortcuts to answer calls and activate Siri.
The reason for this all comes down to one thing: software.
Unlike analog 3.5mm pairs, Lighting jack-based earphones and headphones are reliant on software to function and Apple has confirmed to Business Insider that a bug in iOS 10 and iOS 10.0.1 is to blame. The good news is Apple said it is already working on a fix and this will be issued in a future update (presumably iOS 10.0.2 or iOS 10.1).
Until then users are advised to unplug their Lighting EarPods each time a crash happens then plug them back in, which temporarily fixes the problem. As the issue seemingly occurs at random that can mean long spells without any problems followed by multiple crashes in a row.
Of course the incident is a perfect example of why so many users were against the removal of the headphone jack from iPhones in the first place. The 3.5mm port is ubiquitous, simple, unaffected by software updates and, crucially, far less prone to damage from wear and tear.
This latter point is interesting given the Lightning port has proved to be a weak spot on Apple devices and can break over time. But since it will now be used far more both as charger and headphone point, as well as a reset option for any headphone bugs, there is understandable concern over how the port will hold up as devices age.
But for now iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus owners will just want Lightning headphones to work like the boring, old, reliable 3.5mm ones always did…