iPhone 5 – no analog line out?

iPhone 5 is announced. This is it. It is time to upgrade that old phone. I don’t need any of the new “features” anymore than I did last year when the 4S was announced, but a thinner and lighter phone can’t hurt. Here we go! Oh, wait a minute…

No analog line out? That’s a deal breaker. I mean, everything isn’t digital nor will it be in the next five years, and I actually use the analog line output. It’s not a theoretical nice to have feature that I would never ever use, such as the ability to “root” my phone (I don’t even know what that means, but I imagine it’s something Linux people like to do all day long). It does not take much effort to realize that the 8-pins, duplicated on each side of the connector, is not enough to support analog line output. Judging from the existing connector’s pin layout, USB probably uses 6 of those pins and the remaining two is probably supplying high current power.

For a moment I considered forgetting about the iPhone 5 and purchase a 4S instead, if nothing else to show them that I was disappointed… But then I realized: the headphone jack has been moved to the bottom of the phone. While I disagree with this move, it makes perfect sense. Moving it to the bottom of the phone enables a docking station that uses the headphone jack directly for analog line out, since you can’t keep your headphones plugged in when attaching to a docking station anymore. This is why I disagreed with the move in the first place. However, while you could keep the headphones plugged in in previous models, you would only get sound from either the speakers or the headphones. I think that this is almost certainly because the same components serve both the headphone jack and the line out. All iOS needs to do is turn off the headphone jack and adjust the output level when the docking station is plugged in. This is still possible with iPhone 5, but using the headphone jack directly (and obviously adjust the level, but not turn it off).

I will keep an eye on this issue, specifically because I haven’t seen any accessory that matches the above description yet, but I feel confident that there will be analog line out for the new iPhone.

What’s the next revolutionary iPhone feature?

I have been thinking about the iPhone 5. Specifically, what the next revolutionary feature could be. The first time I saw the iPhone, it felt like it was based on some alien technology. That feeling was not there when the iPhone 4S was released, as I have written before. I am sure that some think that Siri is as revolutionary as the touch based GUI once was, and I might think so too sometime in the future, but it has a long way to go in my opinion. This is largely due to the fact that it does not support the language that I speak daily, and I am not alone with this problem.

So, what could bring that feeling of alien technology back to the iPhone? Yesterday I was reading about eye tracking technology and I realized that eye tracking on the iPhone would again change the way we view mobile phones forever (pun intended). It already has a front facing camera so it has the necessary hardware. In the article, the Swedish eye tracking company Tobii estimated that mainstream breakthrough was about two years away. Could this be the next big thing for iPhone? I would love to see this come true! iPhone (and iPad) would once again blow the competition out of the water.

This reminds me of a scene in Back to the future Part II where Marty is in the Cafe 80’s and he is showing a couple of kids how to play a video game and their response is: “You mean you have to use your hands? That’s like a baby’s toy!” I have always wondered how that might come true. Could this be it?