Apple have turned a corner, Android is still lagging behind, and why is there no third option?


If you don’t know already then you should be aware that Apple has started the process of killing off the headphone jack in their latest iPhone version. Aside from that it’s a lovely new iPhone. More RAM, better speakers, and stereo ones at that. But I can’t go there without the jack. All of this adapter stuff doesn’t work for me, and as for the AirPods, they just don’t make sense to me. They last for 5 hours before needing a charge, that’s great, but I’ve never had to charge my headphones ever. And, more importantly, there’s no mention of the audio latency anywhere, I don’t think that bodes well.


What’s more, I doubt that Apple will stop there. This is the beginning. The iPad will be next, then the Mac too. Jacks will vanish and others will do the same.

So if you’re not going to the iPhone 7, where else is there to go? Well there are of course lots of other devices available. Personally I may go to the 6s next, it seems a reasonable compromise for now. There is Android of course, but for mobile musicians this might not be a palatable move from iOS, as, let’s face it, as a platform it doesn’t rival the range and diversity of iOS music creation. That’s only fair to say I think, and in itself a real shame. Android always had promise, but it doesn’t seem to have delivered so far.

And what’s more, the jack removal movement is there already, with the Moto Z already going jackless! It was in fact a device I was looking at with some interest due its modular nature, but with no jack it really lacks appeal. It won’t be the only jack free device soon either, that’s my bet.


So where else is there to go? Well that’s really the point of this piece. There isn’t anywhere else to go that really works as an iOS alternative. Apple have really done what they set out to in making it an ecosystem that you can’t get out of. If you like your iOS music apps you’re pretty stuck right now, and that seems like a real shame. There’s little chance that Apple will licence iOS to another handset manufacturer, so there’ll be no device that really comes close.

You could view this as a real market opportunity, but in all honesty, who will take it on? It’s a gap that no one is likely to fill at all, and that’s so disappointing.

Personally I could attempt a return to Palm OS, or even Windows Mobile (the really old one), but I know that it wouldn’t last. What I’m really after is a real alternative, but who’s got pockets big enough for that?

Any thoughts? I’m stuck!

19 thoughts on “Apple have turned a corner, Android is still lagging behind, and why is there no third option?”

  1. Really?

    All this fuss over a little Lightening pigtail to 3.5mm headphone jack adapter… especially when it is thrown in free?

    Consider all of the potential innovation that comes with combining audio with that Lightening Port for two-way direct digital access.

    Baby don’t fear the reaper.


    1. Like not being able to charge and use your headphones at the same time, or being able to use a MIDI interface and headphones simultaneously


      1. There is always a solution… albeit it cost a bit. and a double pigtail ain’t exactly pretty.

        Here is an adapter by Belkin that allows simultaneous listening and charging for those who need it.

        Belkin says the adapter supports 48 kHz, 24-bit audio output, as well as remote control and mic support for Apple-made headphones.

        Personally I run a Focusrite Scarlett when I want to get serious … the headphones sound much nicer through it. Not exactly petite portable. Everyone I am sure has a different approach.

        I don’t own the new phone … wouldn’t mind one tho.


  2. Yeah this is a huge bummer. If I wasn’t into music production I wouldn’t care at all, I always listen with BT headphones anyway. But this change really cripples how a musician will use the phone for production. Ashley is totally right, you can forget about using something like an iRig Pro and headphones now.

    If this same change comes to the iPad then the show’s really over… I can’t imagine not using an iPhone as my phone, but it sure is getting harder to create on a platform that already required a lot of hoop jumping for tasks that require little effort on an actual computer.


    1. Why all this hand-ringing?
      It’s only a jack

      I can’t count how many adapters I have purchased over the years to pipe audio from location A to B
      its ingrained into the very DNA of the music business.

      keep your present iphone / audio rig

      If you buy a Iphone 7 buy one of these

      or one of the many various pro audio interface options

      run both iphones … beats switching between apps on the fly … you can never have enough synths



      1. four what it’s worth

        I take these personal reviews with a grain of salt … this reviewer favors the audio quality of the DAC in the lightning pigtail when using higher quality headphones …

        Off -loading the DAC conversion to an external device (like or better than the pigtail) opens the possibility of more professional performance.


  3. My thought is that this SE is a really nice phone, and will be for several years. I’ll worry about it then. As a sound guy, I have to buy a couple adapters and keep them in my front-of-house kit, but frankly, that’s going to make things easier. Half the time that someone walks up with a phone to do playback, they have to take it out of the case to access the jack properly. This new adapter should boink right in there.


  4. While miniplug (1/8″) jacks aren’t ideal for pro audio, the latency introduced by using an adapter *is* a real concern if it bumps out of the 10 ms range; and the upsell on proprietary headphones (Beats suck, sorry) is just insult on top of injury IMO. The bottom line is whether the A/D conversion on the adapters is fast enough to be unnoticeable. Also, lightning-based headphones could possibly use more power than analog although I haven’t seen specs either way on this. And the wireless earbuds? Yeah. That’s not gonna work.

    But really, I’ve slowly become disenchanted with iOS for music over the last couple years, and a lot of it seems to come down to workflow and tactile “playing”. My iOS workflow is stuck and without shelling out more money than I have (and affordability was initially a huge draw for me with iOS) it’s not going to get fixed. I’m realizing that a return to full-time PC DAWs is probably the only viable solution right now for my major songwriting/recording tasks – tasks which up until now have been pulled off with Nanostudio and a bunch of apps which don’t always work easily with each other. I’m not going to just drop all iPhone musicmaking all at once, but the attrition has already begun for me…

    The tactile playing thing is the other part.

    Way back before any of this stuff was around I used to have a Yamaha QY-70. It was AWESOME. I made some cool tunes and learned a ton about MIDI and it was all the size of a VHS cassette [kids: “what’s that?”] The only reason I stopped using it was because the lcd screen went out and replacement wasn’t an option and then they stopped manufacturing them. There was a QY-100 after that but it cost about as much as an iPhone today. However, playing pads definitely beats tapping glass.

    Also remember a guy who used to do live performances in the early 90s using a homebuilt ‘school binder studio’ – you opened up this 3-ring binder and there was a drum machine, sampler, 4 channel mixer, and a couplestompbox FX and maybe a power strip.

    These days there are devices like the Miselu… which was supposed to be self-contained but wound up piggybacking on iOS; the barely-mentionable KDJ-one; there are the lovely but price-prohibitive Teenage Engineering OP units and the Korg Octatrack… and that’s about it.

    I think that an affordable, portable, maybe modular system of dedicated hardware is a very real niche that someone could very well build a brand out of.

    Until then though I just might dig out my old SR-16 and try and score an SP404.


  5. I’m hoping they will put an optical drive into the next iPad Pro when they remove the headphone jack. I want to be able to listen to my CD collection on the go…

    I am kidding, of course. In fact, I continue to be slightly inconvenienced by the the removal of optical drives and support for FireWire from Macs. (I still use a MBP with an optical drive and Firewire.) I also have an adapter for my pre-Display port Mac monitor.

    I use a Bluetooth keyboard and trackpad, but I am not comfortable with Bluetooth headphones because of the battery drain on the phone and paranoia about intentionally sending any radio waves directly toward my brain. When I do upgrade to a jackless iPhone in 2-3 years, I will be using some kind of adapter.

    Change is inconvenient and can be painful, but these are early days. I am optimistic that there will be numerous solutions within the next year. How about a battery case with a lightning connector and a 1/4″ headphone jack?


  6. All these adapters are too f***ing expensive and here comes another one. IMHO ios music software is great for the low latency but when it comes to organizing samples or rendering to .wav or creating a hierarchical file structure its just terrible. I hope android sorts out the latency, then i’ll never use ios again.
    On the other hand windows 10 tablets are getting faster and faster, dont really have a problem with latency, have a nice normal file structure, no need to email your rendered .wavs to yourself or upload to icloud / dropbox or some nonsense…its just that there is not that much software designed for use with touchscreen only yet. Sunvox will be the first, but then there is also presonus studio one.
    With a windows 10 tablet where there is no wifi connection and you could still render to .wav and all that no problem. Hope cubasis migrates to windows 10 tablets. it would make sense.

    Also, I totally agree that there should be a new purpose built, rugged, portable, battery powered sampler, synth sequencer with pads and faders and knobs and a touchscreen…maybe even one that could have vstis loaded up into it. I’m thinking a new modern and revamped MPC500 that works completely in the box and looks something like the new MPCtouch. or a revamped yamaha QY100.


    1. Cubase and a million other DAWs have always been available on Windows. Frankly, I’ve never understood why people even want to do audio production on a PDA tablet, whatever the OS. Limited i/o, limited internal space, no keyboard. Sure, you can add hardware to it, but then why not just use a laptop?


      1. Sorry, I think the whole ‘serious music making can’t be done on a mobile device’ is well and truly over, in fact, years ago. It feels weird just to hear it again frankly. Of course you can do serious work on an iPad. That’s just stupid. I think you’ve missed the point in a big way. ‘Why not use a laptop’? Seriously? Am I going to get a laptop out when I’m on a bus for 10 minutes? Standing on an underground train? Not particularly helpful comment in my view.


  7. I’ve been giving the Surface Pro seriously long looks of late. Studio One runs well with touch…

    I completely understand the feeling of being trapped by iOS however: I’ve got about 75 music making apps I really enjoy that are wholly dependent on me staying with iOS. But there’s just something about the high-handedess of the jack-removal, and the surety that there is more to come, that has me realizing Apple isn’t the wagon I want to stay hitched to. I’ll get years out of my iPad Pro, but it will likely be my last iOS device.

    If only Android was a functioning platform! But still having latency issues after all these years means music making is obviously not a priority. (And how many developers would roll the dice to create for the platform in light of Android users seeming reluctance to actually pay for apps?)

    I stand with everyone hoping for an open, music-focused, low-latency, rugged device… But I’m guessing our numbers are too small to attract serious development. Perhaps as fabrication keeps getting cheaper and closer to the personal level, something magical is out there in the hazy future? We can dream, can’t we?


  8. I’m certainly not saying you can’t do real work on a tablet. I’ve been reading you since my Palm IIIx was always on my hip. I waited 10 years for Jobs to make the iPad, so I could use it as a thin client to control concert sound systems, and he did a perfect job. I have 2917 apps in iTunes at the moment. I make music with them on stage, on the plane, in bed. But are you going to need a fully featured DAW when you’re “on a bus for 10 minutes”? There are many things this tool is incredibly good for. Audio workstation isn’t particularly one of them. I need a big screen with multiple windows, a terrabyte of drive space, and some physical controls. Hey look, there’s my Macbook.


  9. Yes, but if you live in a large city where housing is overpriced and terrible quality, and your walls are so thin that you can hear your neighbours chewing their food, then mouseclicks and key presses all night are not an option at all. In this situation, which a lot of people are in, touchscreen with headphones is the only option.

    Just think of all those kids that spent years learning accoustic intruments in school, only to find that for the entirety of their adult lives they will never be able to practise at all without neighbours banging on the wall and complaining. Even mouseclicks and keypresses are a problem.


    1. I used to have a roommate come running out of his bedroom yelling who is making all the noise? I was in the living room listening to my cassettes with headphones. The sound of the stop and rewind buttons being pushed were driving him crazy. It is a real problem.


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