Technical + Business Details On iPod Shuffle 3G’s Remote Chip
If you’ve read our review of the third-generation iPod shuffle and editorial on its remote control authentication chip yesterday, you already know that while the EFF was concerned about “DRM” in the chip, our concern was different:
“If you want a pair of headphones that will work to control the new iPod shuffle, you will now have to buy something that Apple either makes itself, or approves—this process has already led to needlessly overpriced video cables and chargers, as well as creating problems for many additional types of accessories that you may or may not have ever heard of.”
A source provided us with some additional insider details on the remote chip that might interest those of you who wanted to know more specifics on what’s going on here.
Internally, Apple has been referring to the chip as a transmitter chip; it is technically a dual-mode modulator that overlays remote control commands on top of the headphone or microphone signal, coupled with a controller in the iPod. According to Apple’s own documentation, the chip gets power from the iPod, then transmits encoded control information to the iPod, which has a controller that receives and decodes the button information. Using the chip, Apple’s microphone-equipped versions of the headset operate in either “button mode” or “tone mode,” sending control commands either as differing voltage levels or as ultrasonic tones ranging from 99 to 300kHz.
This source suggests that the chip can be seen in a positive or negative light. On the positive side, it provides developers access to a new part that Apple could have kept for itself and its own products. On the negative side, to get the chip, a developer is required to sign Apple’s Made For iPod agreement, which has serious consequences: first, Apple must issue its approval in advance for each specific remote controlled headphone product; only afterwards will the developer will be given access to the chips. Next, there are the other MFI issues—the contract (think App Store contract, multiplied), royalties on some product sales, monthly accounting reporting to Apple, and audits, amongst them. All this for an in-line remote control.
These details will be linked to yesterday’s editorial and the original review.
If you have a comment, news tip, advertising inquiry, or coverage request, a question about iPods or accessories, or if you sell or market products, read iLounge's Comments + Questions policies before posting, and fully identify yourself if you do. We will delete comments containing advertising, astroturfing, trolling, personal attacks, offensive language, or other objectionable content, then ban and/or publicly identify violators. Wondering why we're talking about something other than iPods? Check the Archives: Backstage has been here and kicking it since 2004.
- Incipio to acquire Skullcandy
- Apple confirms iOS 10 kernel was left open to improve performance
- Apple leaves iOS 10 kernel open to scrutiny
- Judge throws out ‘Error 53’ lawsuit against Apple
- Chinese company in iPhone patent fight is all but defunct
- Apple adds nine more apps to universal search in Apple TV
- WSJ: iPhone to see modest changes this year, eliminate headphone jack
- China tightening restrictions on mobile games starting next month
- Supreme Court patent ruling bodes well for future Apple cases
- Apple to pay $400M to consumers over e-book price fixing case
- Zagg Slim Book for 9.7” iPad Pro
- Element Case Ronin for iPhone 6/6s
- JBL Clip 2 Wireless Bluetooth Speaker
- Audio-Technica ATH-SR5BT Wireless On-Ear Headphones
- Catalyst Case for iPad mini 4
- Jaybird Freedom Wireless Bluetooth Headphones
- Zagg Flex Arc Wireless Earbuds + Speakers
- Audio-Technica ATH-MSR7NC SonicPro Headphones with Active Noise Cancellation
- Twelve South BookBook for 12.9” iPad Pro
- Spigen Rugged Armor, Style Armor + Wallet S for iPhone SE
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 Photos gets Advanced Computer Vision
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 Music app delivers ‘clarity and simplicity’
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 Maps gets a major redesign
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 shakes up the user experience
- Inside the betas: watchOS 3 promises a real speed boost
- Inside the betas: A sneak peek at what’s new in tvOS 10
- Filling the Gap: A look at third-party HomeKit apps
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of tvOS 9.2
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of iOS 9.3
- Opinion: Why Apple needs a dedicated HomeKit app