In addition to getting rid of a few common problems, removing the jack from iOS devices could translate into a number of direct benefits to consumers. First of all, Apple could reclaim the space that it currently needs to reserve on its devices for the jack and use it for other purposes, such as making its devices thinner—or, perhaps, reorganizing the iPhone’s internals so that there’s more room inside for a bigger battery. If you recall, this was the same motivation that led the company to remove optical disc drives from its current crop of desktop and laptop computers—precisely because designing around that clunky apparatus was beginning to hinder Apple’s ability to slim them down any further.
Switching to Lightning-powered headphones could also mean richer controls for volume and playback. Until now, these have, to a certain extent, been made possible by the clever use of analog signals over multi-segmented connectors, but there’s a limit to what can be accomplished with this approach. With a fully digital interface and the ability to provide power, on the other hand, it might be possible to create headphones that offer advanced displays or better sound reproduction than is now possible. (Though that, in turn, might be a wash with any extra battery power Apple could get from freeing up the space currently occupied by the jack.)
It would certainly make sense and another reason why Apple bought Beats – to take their existing headphones, pair them with Apple’s hardware to make headphones that sound much better than the current analogue way of connection. Thinner iPhone’s is also part of Apple’s mantra in making their devices thinner year over year. A year away I would say before we see this potential on future devices.