Apple has long been rumored to launch headphones which connect to an iOS device using the Lightning cable. This has almost gone official now with Apple introducing a new specification for its MFi or Made for iPhone/iPod/iPad program which allows third party manufacturers to utilize this very feature.
These headphones will support 48 kHz lossless stereo digital output and 48 kHz mono digital input which essentially means it can support microphones as well. Manufacturers will be further allowed to program the headphones to work with specific iOS apps and control music or other audio using volume controls and other buttons on these headphones.
Apple is expected to bring support for these headphones to older devices running iOS 7.1 and above. These headphones will reportedly be able to draw power from the iOS device and even provide power back to the iPhone/iPod or iPod, which is a lot like the current crop of Lightning based audio docks.
Since these headphones are an integral part of the user experience, manufacturers will reportedly be able to send firmware updates in order to add new features along the way.
Apple is expected to launch two configurations of these headphones – Standard Lightning Headphones and Advanced Lightning Headphones. The former is an entry level pair of headphones which will use minimal components when being paired with a digital to analog converter. The Advanced Lightning Headphones on the other hand will support features like active noise cancellation and a digital/analog converter along with a digital signal processor.
It is likely that we will see Beats Audio branded Lightning headphones in the coming days as well which makes a lot of sense given the recent acquisition.