Have you ever wondered why some major smartphone manufacturers are replacing the headphone jack in newer phone models? Apple introduced this with the iPhone 7 and Android has done the same with the HTC Bolt, HTC U and Lenovo Moto Z phones. Instead of a Lightning connector, which is what Apple uses, Android replaced the headphone jack with a USB-C port. More Android products are sure to have the same revamp, too. The idea behind the change is to improve the phone’s interactive audio:USB-C audio is specifically meant to improve two-way interaction, which means both the consumption and the creation of content. The question is if or when this will be accepted by consumers.
Eliminating Lag Time
Despite advances in technology, there are still several devices and apps that have that awkward lag time that makes a conversation difficult. If you’ve ever used something like Skype and notice that you and the other person on the line continually trip over each other’s sentences, it’s likely due to systemic lag, which prevents the audio from flowing smoothly. When the other person speaks and then pauses after a sentence, the lag time can make you think that they’ve stopped speaking altogether, which makes you respond, often at the same moment that they start speaking again, and this can go back and forth.
This lag time problem goes beyond basic communication with others, though. Audio issues don’t just hinder one-on-one communication, they also prevent people from creating. It can affect virtual instrument and microphone apps, as well as virtual assistants. By not being able to create, Android users may feel that their smartphone and its lacking capabilities is preventing them from contributing to culture and connecting with other artists.For professionals who rely on their Android as a sort of assistant, this can mean reduced efficiency and productivity.
Unfortunately, Bluetooth isn’t a fix for the audio lag or audio quality problems. Most Bluetooth-enabled devices are known for high lag times and low audio quality due to the standard Bluetooth versions (less than 4.0) that are typically used in devices. For example, if you use a Bluetooth headset along with Skype, you’ve actually increased the lag time. Though more modern Bluetooth versions have sought to fix these issues, most manufacturers have stuck with the older versions because their operating systems can’t update to the newest Bluetooth technology.
Android’s Audio and USB
So far, Apple’s USB audio has set the standard in the industry. The manufacturers who create USB audio hardware do so specifically for Apple, making Apple USB highly dependable. When it comes to Android, though, its USB audio support hasn’t been nearly as high-functioning as Apple’sand it’s also only been available on select devices. As a solution – though one that hasn’t worked out well – Android products have often had to use Linux USB audio to connect, but this hasn’t produced nearly the same results as Apple’s USB audio. At the same time, the audio latency – the lag time – is still present on Android devices. Android’s new USB support isn’t designed well – which includes being able to be used universally –users will continue to experience lag time as well as low audio quality.
Transitioning from the Headphone Jack to USB
There are certainly problems associated with the shift from headphone jacks to USB-C ports. The update should give Android the chance to fix several audio problems. Since Android USB audio will now have to be elevated and properly implemented, it’s an ideal time to also fix the high audio latency issue. The hope is that all audio issues will be worked out with this update so that Android users can have a brand new, advanced experience with both communication and creation.
Rest assured that as smartphone designs continue to evolve, we’ll be keeping up with the changes and we’ll remain committed to protecting your devices with our trusted line of plugs.