A new patent application uncovered by AppleInsider today shows that Apple is working on ways to make hybrid headphones that work via both Bluetooth and a wired connection, and can switch seamlessly between the two. It’s a system designed to come in handy during physical activity, complete with the ability to recharge directly from the attached device.
The patent describes headphones connected to a device via a two-part, detachable cable that holds together either via a simple clip or magnets, much like the MagSafe power adapter. The connection could then easily disconnect if a user accidentally knocks it or the cord becomes entangled, avoiding potential injury or product damage. If you’ve ever tripped on your Mac’s MagSafe adapter, you’ll notice that most likely, neither you nor your computer came crashing to the ground.
Upon being disconnected from an attached device physically, these headphones would stop drawing power and instantly power on a wireless radio to broadcast to the host device, over Bluetooth or some other type of connection.
It’s a neat trick, and one that would definitely help Apple gain even more cred when it comes to its headphone offerings. The new Apple EarPods were a good start, but something like this could actually elevate their headphones to something more than just an adequate sound delivery device that comes in the same box as iPhones and iPods – it could make headphones an actual selling point. Still, this would add considerably to Apple earphones’ cost of manufacture, so it’s probably something that, were it ever to arrive, would ship separately like the In-Ear Headphones Apple currently sells.
Of course, patents aren’t product road maps, but Apple is offering Bluetooth 4.0 across their device lineup now, which supports low-power accessories, and Bluetooth sound has come a long way from where it once was. My Jaybird Freedom headset is one of the best-sounding earbuds I’ve ever owned, so these could possibly make an appearance at some future date, if Apple thinks they’d actually address a major pain point for users of its mobile devices.