Controversial iPhone 7 Headphones Put Software Center Stage

September 20, 2016 - 2 minutes read

There’s a saying that for a carpenter, the solution to every problem is a nail. The saying holds true among techies — mobile app developers will always see software solutions, while hardware designers will always see hardware solutions. This debate is raging particularly brightly within Apple right now, as users discovered thanks to the iPhone 7’s most controversial feature: the lack of a headphone jack.

For Apple, the solution to updating devices is similar to Facebook’s strategy when updating public-facing platforms. “Just make the change, and explain your reasons to upset users later.” Most Apple diehards can see the big picture behind the headphone decision, but it’s still causing bad feelings among users as the new Lightning EarPods have proven prone to crashing and freezing in the first few weeks of iPhone 7 exposure.

This highlights the dangers that come with moving hardware solutions to software — the headphone jack may be “outdated,” but it at least doesn’t rely on software to make the connection between earpod and phone. As any NYC iOS app developer knows, moving hardware functionality to software is virtually guaranteed to generate a few bugs and hiccups, particularly with a product as ubiquitous as the iPhone.

However, there’s a silver lining to the headphone jack issue — software, unlike hardware, can be updated relatively simply via software upgrades. App developers at Apple will presumably be able to update the software within a few days to solve the freezing headphone problem, and users will be able to enjoy a solution that doesn’t involve trading in or buying a new phone.

In the long run, Apple will probably move everything that can be handled by software onto software, making the overall functionality of iOS devices as streamlined and flexible as possible. App developers selling products in the Apple App Store have been one of the company’s biggest revenue drivers, so it’s no surprise that they put a lot of faith in software. Users, in the meantime, will simply have to ride out the rough waters as Apple charts their course to a software-driven future.

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