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Intel pushes USB-C as headphone jack's successor

The technology world has a seething hatred of the traditional 3.5-millimeter headphone jack —or so it seems, given that chip giant Intel is the latest company to propose replacing the aging plug with a digital alternative.

via AnandTech

Intel would prefer that future devices, including smartphones and tablets, eschew the stalwart headphone jack for USB-C. The firm made its case at a recent development conference with the unveiling of USB Type-C Digital Audio, as noted by AnandTech.

In the near term, Intel would simply like to replace the jack with USB-C's analog audio specification. This would be "basically a connector replacement," Intel said.

Looking toward the future, they hope that adopting USB-C will help catalyze the movement from analog to digital audio.

From a user's perspective, the move to digital headphones could be a good one. Improved audio quality is one obvious plus; the ability to communicate directly with —and draw power from —a mobile device means that headphones could become smarter and in some cases lighter, since powered models would no longer require built-in batteries.

This shift would also benefit Intel, the world's largest semiconductor manufacturer by a country mile, in obvious ways.

There is mounting evidence that Apple is contemplating a similar move, though most people believe the iPhone maker would choose its own Lightning connector over USB-C. If Intel's proposal moves forward, the battle between USB-C and Lightning will be an interesting —and likely expensive —one waged on the battlefield of the world's most popular consumer device.