Upcoming Macs could ditch the audio jack for Lightning and/or USB-C headphones and earbuds

At the company’s IDF Developer Conference in San Francisco, Intel pushed for mobile devices to ditch analog audio and embrace digital headsets using USB-C. Yep. USB-C, not Lightning.

If the rumors are true — and I believe they are — the “iPhone 7” will ditch the 3.5mm audio jack and go strictly with Lightning and wireless headphones and earbuds. It may be possible that Macs will go the same route with all desktops and laptops adding Lightning ports. Or perhaps Apple will promote USB-C headphones for its desktop and laptop line-up. The latter is less likely as the company would probably prefer supporting one audio standard across its entire product line-up.

At the IDF Developer Conference in San Francisco on Tuesday, Intel architects Brad Saunders and Rahman Ismail talked about (http://www.cnet.com/news/intel-expects-usb-type-c-could-help-kill-the-3-5mm-audio-jack/#ftag=CADf328eec) a coming USB audio standard that could help push the 3.5mm jack aside. The new specification, due this quarter, adds features to ensure a USB headphone doesn't drain too much battery power and defines how buttons for pausing music or lowering volume work.

Saunders said the 3.5mm audio jack takes up precious volume inside phones. What’s more, the analog circuitry of 3.5mm audio can cause interference that disrupts other electronics in a phone, he added.