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Sorry, Apple, the Headphone Jack Isn't Going Anywhere (yahoo.com) 332

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Rob Pegoraro via Yahoo Finance: Two things unite almost every phone on display here at Mobile World Congress 2017: Android and a headphone jack. Apple doesn't exhibit its wares at this trade show, so the domination of Google's operating system is predictable. But the headphone jack's persistence did not look so inevitable when Apple cut it from the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus last September. Lenovo's Motorola subsidiary had already shipped a phone without a headphone hack, the Moto Z, and Apple's influence over the rest of the smartphone industry remains formidable -- indeed, within months, the Chinese firm LeEco had debuted a lineup of Android phones devoid of headphone jacks. As my colleague David Pogue predicted in a post approving Apple's move: "Other brands worldwide will be following suit." The hardware on display here at the world's largest mobile tech conference, though, suggests otherwise. Two days of walking around the show floor showed companies expressing a consistent unwillingness to abandon the humble headphone jack, even on models as thin as, or thinner than, the iPhone 7. The MWC floor revealed only one company willing to do away with the headphone jack: HTC. The Taiwan-based firm, which has struggled financially for years despite shipping such well-reviewed models as the HTC 10, used its exhibit to showcase the U Ultra and the U Play, which rely on their USB-C ports for audio output. Unlike, Apple, though, the company didn't make the move to save space, but rather to incorporate its "USonic" feature, which lets the phones' headphones calibrate themselves to your ears and provide noise cancellation.
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Sorry, Apple, the Headphone Jack Isn't Going Anywhere

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Weakling!

  • HTC (Score:5, Insightful)

    by msauve ( 701917 ) on Thursday March 02, 2017 @09:07AM (#53961205)
    "Unlike, Apple, though, the company didn't make the move to save space, but rather to incorporate its "USonic" feature, which lets the [USB] phones' headphones calibrate themselves to your ears and provide noise cancellation."

    Oh, bullshit. There's no reason the headphone jack has to be removed to support that. They're not mutually exclusive.
    • Re:HTC (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ausekilis ( 1513635 ) on Thursday March 02, 2017 @10:12AM (#53961473)

      Hell, this feature was available on my Cyangen-Modded Galaxy S3 years ago. The Oneplus-1 was also able to do this with typical headphones.

      It was actually pretty neat, you listened to a series of pitches at different volumes with each ear and it was able to tell if you had some amount of loss in one ear and calibrate sound for it.

      • It was actually pretty neat, you listened to a series of pitches at different volumes with each ear and it was able to tell if you had some amount of loss in one ear and calibrate sound for it.

        But was it able to tell, or did you have to tell it?

    • Re:HTC (Score:5, Insightful)

      by PostPhil ( 739179 ) on Thursday March 02, 2017 @10:22AM (#53961523)

      Exactly.

      Even for Apple we know that the argument for saving space is nonsense. USB-C is 8.4mm x 2.6mm.

      A typical 3.5mm analog headphone jack is not much thicker, but even if it is, there is a simple solution to the problem: a 2.5mm analog headphone jack which is even NARROWER and THINNER than USB-C. Headphones already exist for this, and even if they didn't, all existing 3.5mm analog headphones can use a simple adapter that's been around for decades. Plug it on the end of the cable. DONE.

      Now that we know the superiority of 2.5mm for solving the space issue, I'm sure a company as "courageous" as Apple will fix their mistake and use 2.5mm instead. Right?

      • Re:HTC (Score:5, Interesting)

        by supremebob ( 574732 ) <themejunky@noSpaM.geocities.com> on Thursday March 02, 2017 @10:58AM (#53961753) Journal

        Where is the added profit in using an industry standard 2.5mm headphone jack? Apple wants you to buy their more expensive and proprietary Lightning port earbuds or wireless Airpods instead.

        Rumor has it that the next iPhone will be USB-C, but I wouldn't be suprised if they added some proprietary protocols that require Apple/Beats branded headphones or earbuds for that as well.

        • by Maritz ( 1829006 )

          Rumor has it that the next iPhone will be USB-C, but I wouldn't be suprised if they added some proprietary protocols that require Apple/Beats branded headphones or earbuds for that as well.

          Apple are not going to want people to use any old headphones they want, whereby Apple do not get a cut. Hence the ditched headphone jack in the first place.

        • Rumor has it that the next iPhone will be USB-C, but I wouldn't be suprised if they added some proprietary protocols that require Apple/Beats branded headphones or earbuds for that as well.

          I sincerely hope that's exactly what they do. It'll be great to make fun of Apple buyers for buying into this.

      • by OzPeter ( 195038 )

        Exactly.

        Even for Apple we know that the argument for saving space is nonsense. USB-C is 8.4mm x 2.6mm.

        My understanding is that is not the dimensions of the jack on the surface of the phone that is the problem, but the internal depth into the phone.

      • They got rid of the jack to enforce end-to-end DRM and capitalize on the profit margin w/ wireless headphone technology.

      • by sl3xd ( 111641 )

        Now that we know the superiority of 2.5mm for solving the space issue, I'm sure a company as "courageous" as Apple will fix their mistake and use 2.5mm instead. Right?

        You're making one hell of a strawman...

        If Apple had switched the 3.5mm audio jack for USB-C, you'd have an argument. But that's not what they did at all.

        Apple doesn't use USB-C on its phones, and Apple didn't swap connectors -- their design went from two connectors to one.

        It's also good to consider not only the size of the connector, but also

    • "Unlike, Apple, though, the company didn't make the move to save space, but rather to incorporate its "USonic" feature, which lets the [USB] phones' headphones calibrate themselves to your ears and provide noise cancellation." Oh, bullshit. There's no reason the headphone jack has to be removed to support that. They're not mutually exclusive.

      I predict that with the seething anger some have over headphone jacks, gone missing, in 30 years, the headphone jack will be the only thing left on the phone as direct to optical nerve and auditory nerve projection is used, and the rest of the phone shrinks to the size of a dust mote.

      But it will have the mandatory headphone jack - now the largest part of the phone.

  • Really? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 02, 2017 @09:12AM (#53961217)

    Does anyone honestly think that Apple cares whether other companies drop the headphone jack on their phones?

    • Re:Really? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by jcr ( 53032 ) <.moc.cam. .ta. .rcj.> on Thursday March 02, 2017 @09:13AM (#53961225) Journal

      Bingo.

      The headline is stupid.

      -jcr

    • Re:Really? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MBGMorden ( 803437 ) on Thursday March 02, 2017 @09:39AM (#53961307)

      They kinda do. Apple has be seen as a trendsetter. We were the FIRST to remove the old outdated headphone jack.

      If the other companies buck the trend, then there is the public perception to think of iPhones as "those stupid phones that don't even have a headphone jack" instead of "those cool phones that did away with that outdated tech".

      If they public's opinion doesn't sway I'd expect to see the headphone jack back on the iPhone by the time the iPhone 9 comes out.

      • And they'll somehow manage to sell it as a revolutionary invention when they bring it back too.
      • Re:Really? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by OzPeter ( 195038 ) on Thursday March 02, 2017 @10:23AM (#53961527)

        If they public's opinion doesn't sway I'd expect to see the headphone jack back on the iPhone by the time the iPhone 9 comes out.

        It just struck me that this is not just about headphones, but also things like the Square reader that plugs into the headphone jack*. I'm sure Square would be thrilled to have re-design their hardware to incorporate it wirelessly (and what does that do to security of said devices?)

        * Although if Apple shifts to USB-C and softens its stance on the what can be physically connected to their products then it might be a win-win situation.

        • * Although if Apple shifts to USB-C and softens its stance on the what can be physically connected to their products then it might be a win-win situation.

          Apple's shift to USB-C is a way to make you think it's going to open the market. In fact, they just have to put their frickin chip on the wire to exclude any non-Apple-approved hardware, which is most probably the way they will go. Their partnerships with other companies is a big revenue stream for them. You think they suddenly became a charity? #not

      • They are not bringing it back, that would be admitting they were wrong in the first place.

    • Does anyone honestly think that Apple cares whether other companies drop the headphone jack on their phones?

      Yes after a fashion. If Apple is wrong about their bet that people don't really care about the headphone jack then it will cost them business. If the other handset manufacturers follow Apple in removing the port then Apple's bet will pay off and they will continue on their merry way without the added cost and problems related to a headphone jack. If Apple turns out to be wrong and people stop or slow buying their phones because of that missing feature then you bet Apple will care.

      So far it seems Apple is

      • by jcr ( 53032 ) <.moc.cam. .ta. .rcj.> on Thursday March 02, 2017 @10:00AM (#53961415) Journal

        . If Apple is wrong about their bet that people don't really care about the headphone jack then it will cost them business.

        They already know that they're right. They have the sales figures to prove it.

        -jcr

    • by Bongo ( 13261 )

      Quite. Now if consumers cared, that's different.

      Like when a wife dragged her husband over and, gesturing gracefully towards the Mac cube and display siting on the shop table, she said to her husband, "now... this!"

      The husband in his infinite wisdom said, "ah, no, no that's just the power supply, the computer is under the table somewhere."

      (Male) consumer didn't get it. Cube died, perhaps not just because it was overpriced.

    • Does anyone honestly think that Apple cares whether other companies drop the headphone jack on their phones?

      Probably not about the individual issue but you know they won't like not being blindly followed.

    • by shess ( 31691 )

      It's not like Apple needs this to happen to create a critical mass of no-jack support - Apple doesn't share such things with other companies anyhow, they create their own ecosystem, and that ecosystem is generally stronger than the random chaos of Android add-ons.

    • Does anyone honestly think that Apple cares whether other companies drop the headphone jack on their phones?

      Of course they do.

      Right now, you cannot buy a late-model iPhone with a headphone jack. They don't exist.

      If you want a headphone jack, you must by a previous model iPhone (for which they receive no new money), or some other device.

      By definition, they have lost market share. Not that they have that much to start with, worldwide, anymore.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 02, 2017 @09:16AM (#53961233)

    to incorporate its "USonic" feature, which lets the phones' headphones

    ...Only work when authorized by a persistent online connection to the MAFIA.

    They want to "close" this analog hole just as much as the last one. No, "smaller phone OMG!?!?!?!" is not a good reason anymore. These days the damn things are so small, that if you want it to survive daily use, you need a clamshell that's typically 2x bigger than the phone itself to put the phone in. I'd argue that most phones are too small already. Waterproofing it, can also be done if the money is shelled out for it, and wasn't one of the selling points of buying an iPhone the whole: "I'm so rich, I can afford to wear this bling! Be jealous." thing? They could up the damn price for that, and then some by saying the extra costs are for protecting the consumer's investment.

    This has nothing to do with "better phone" it's all about control.

    • You say it won't be able to play arbitrary MP3s I sideload to the SD card?

    • ...Only work when authorized by a persistent online connection to the MAFIA.

      You got that wrong, it's the "MAFIAA" (two As on the end): Music And Film Industries Association of America. This comes from its two constituent organizations, the RIAA and the MPAA (Recording Industry Ass. of America, and Motion Picture Ass. of America).

  • by pastafazou ( 648001 ) on Thursday March 02, 2017 @09:51AM (#53961369)
    I do, and I remember all the freakouts over the lack of SCSI and ADB ports, and on the Windows side of the aisle everyone insisting manufacturers NOT kill the PS/2 ports. Ultimately, the technology advances, and old ports aren't needed any more. You may very well find phones with headphone jacks for many years to come. But more and more, the industry will shift to wireless headphones, and those jacks will get less and less use. Kind of like those PS/2 ports that still ship on a few models of motherboards....
    • by fluffernutter ( 1411889 ) on Thursday March 02, 2017 @10:03AM (#53961421)
      Except bluetooth has so many drawbacks it isn't really a replacement for a headphone port. In fact in every account I have seen, the bluetooth version of a headphone is inferior to the wired version, especially if you take cost into account.
      • Except bluetooth has so many drawbacks it isn't really a replacement for a headphone port. In fact in every account I have seen, the bluetooth version of a headphone is inferior to the wired version, especially if you take cost into account.

        I use a BT headset and I use a wired studio headset when I have to. Yes, the studio set is better, but it also cost several hundred dollers, and since it comes with a real plug, na adapter must be used. I would be very interested in the citations that every Bluetooth setup is inferior to every wired version. My experience has been different, and I would like to be set right.

        • I would be surprised if it took more than $70 to beat most bluetooth headphones in terms of bass strength and clarity. And that is just one aspect of the issues with bluetooth.
          • I would be surprised if it took more than $70 to beat most bluetooth headphones in terms of bass strength and clarity. And that is just one aspect of the issues with bluetooth.

            Comparing my bluetooth headset - a sub 100 dollar Logitech with my Heil Studio headset several hundred dollars, the studio headset is a definite winner. That being said, I can tailor the sound as I want and reproduce what I hear in either headset. The Bluetooth doesn't have a phasing switch, but I seldom need that.

            The headset works well from my office to the kitchen, not dropping out until I get about 50 feet away - not surprising given the BT frequency. I wonder why I get decent performance while some

            • If top sound quality is your touchstone, neither Bluetooth, nor any buds sold with any phone is adequate

              Correct, I can't use any included buds. I'd rather just not listen to music. I can use included buds for audio books, but I find bluetooth even makes the reader's voice sound dull. The job of headphones should be to adequately reproduce the sound as best as possible. While $20 headphones won't do that, I would expect any headphone above $70 to do a fairly good job of it. If there is some sort of technical limitation limiting the headphone's ability to do that then I don't see the point of spending mon

        • by Khyber ( 864651 )

          The bandwidth alone on A2DC makes BT lossy and horrible. I can't stand using BT on my BT headphones, and use the AUX-in cable port on them instead.

    • by evilbessie ( 873633 ) on Thursday March 02, 2017 @10:05AM (#53961433)

      If you want full rollover support on your keyboard you need PS/2, USB will only allow 6 key rollover. This is an actual feature some people care about (mostly those who buy mechanical keyboards).

    • Strangely enough, the brand new motherboard [gigabyte.com] I bought for a sixth generation Intel Core CPU last year has PS/2 ports. I'm still trying to work out why - PS/2 has been obsolete now for, what, 15 years? I'm pretty sure RS232 or a floppy drive connector would be more useful.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        There is no way to secure a USB port. Your USB keyboard or mouse can lie and claim it's also a HDD and auto-play a virus or it could type whatever it wanted into the computer. And as a previous poster said, you can actually press more keys on PS/2 than you can on USB. I'll assume PS/2 takes far fewer CPU cycles to process as well.

        • by jabuzz ( 182671 )

          KVM switches on USB/DVI are rather flaky is probably why. I know Dell machines went through a stage of no PS/2 only for them to come back. At least in their Optiplex line that is.

    • by gaiageek ( 1070870 ) on Thursday March 02, 2017 @10:33AM (#53961599)
      This is the exact argument that I'm sure someone at Apple made -- and the exact argument that shows that some people just don't get it.

      Headphones are not SCSI hard drives. Headphones are not PS/2 mice. One of my favorite pairs of headphones was purchased around the same year I once bought a SCSI card (1996), and I still use them today.

      They're an item which is very personal. You don't wear a hard drive. You WEAR headphones. On walks to class or work, riding the subway, on transcontinental flights, lying in bed late at night. They may be pressed up against or even inside your ears for hours each day. When someone who uses headphones a lot finds a pair that they love, it's a bond that is not easily broken. And certainly not for something new that will either 1. easily get lost, 2. require recharging at some inconvenient time or 3. die a slow death as their rechargeable batteries wear out.

      Apple was the brand for many musicians and music producers. Taking away the audio jack was another big "fuck you" to that following who were long some of Apple's most ardent supporters.
      • And certainly not for something new that will either 1. easily get lost, 2. require recharging at some inconvenient time or 3. die a slow death as their rechargeable batteries wear out.

        Although I agree with your overall sentiment, I should point out that you're describing Bluetooth headphones here, which require neither the USB-C jack nor the beloved 1/8" TRS jack. There are USB-C (as well as Lightning) based wired headphones that are not tiny earbuds that can easily get lost, and do not have rechargeable batteries - for example, JBL makes several [jbl.com].

      • Not only are headphones more personal, but the fundamental purpose of them is output to our squishy, meaty, non-digital bodies.That's really the biggest part of the argument that's getting missed; the core function of headphones is to turn electrical impulses into analog sound. Sure, you can get into a debate about where you want to stick the DAC, but in the end you are going to end up with a nice, curvy waveform to interface with the membrane in your ear.
    • by fermion ( 181285 )
      Or when Apple supported SCSI instead of parallel port. For me that was a good thing as SCSI was easier to set up for somethings rather than parallel. Even further back support of RS-422 made life easier. Firewire was faster for a long time than USB.

      The key with the headphone jack is the same as with legacy ports on MS Windows machines. Some ports cost more than others, so one fills up the computer with cheap ports to make people feel like they get a good deal. Ports cost money, so use cheap ports to a

    • PS/2 ports needed to be killed because weren't hot pluggable [wikipedia.org]. If you unplugged a PS/2 keyboard or mouse and plugged in a new one while the computer was on, it could hang or crash or even damage the computer. Not many users knew that because it worked as if it were hot pluggable about 9 times out of 10. But most techies knew it could hang the computer, and the developers of USB certainly knew it - USB was designed specifically to be hot pluggable.

      And USB supplanted Firewire on the Apple side. Firewire
      • by Maritz ( 1829006 )
        In my experience, moving a PS/2 device between ports just meant it stopped working. I don't think I ever saw it cause a crash, nor did I ever see it working after being moved. That's just my recollection though. I'm not dumb enough to regard that as historical fact.
      • by Khyber ( 864651 )

        Actually, most motherboards now days have a hot-plug PS/2 port on them. Just for shits and giggles I'm switching between my Model M and my HP 5181, and this is on an older Athlon64 II X2 DDR2 motherboard.

    • PS/2 is no longer useful but it was a good idea to keep it for a while on desktop PCs (where you have plenty of space for ports) in order to do a smooth transition to USB.

      ADB always sucked and was never used outside Apple so it's not a valid comparison.

      • by Khyber ( 864651 )

        As input device ports go, PS/2 is far more secure than USB, with true NKRO. PS/2 port can't allow a malicious mouse to identify itself as a storage drive.

    • by mark-t ( 151149 )

      The difference between removal of the headphone jack and the removal of ps/2 ports is that taking away the ps/2 ports on many PC's didn't usually completely remove the ability to have any other things connected to your computer while using usb keyboards or mice because there were often 4 or more usb ports available on a system anyways. I can appreciate the notion that the headphone jack may be an obsolete piece of technology (although I don't personally subscribe to the belief, I can at least appreciate

    • by torkus ( 1133985 )

      Yup, though keeping PS/2 ports around didn't exactly HURT the PC world either.

  • by sjbe ( 173966 ) on Thursday March 02, 2017 @10:02AM (#53961417)

    Two days of walking around the show floor showed companies expressing a consistent unwillingness to abandon the humble headphone jack, even on models as thin as, or thinner than, the iPhone 7.

    PCs held on to Dsub parallel and serial ports and PS/2 ports and floppy drives for many years after Apple kicked them to the curb. Blackberry kept making physical keyboards long after the market proved that most buyers don't care about them. Just because everyone else didn't follow Apple one year later doesn't really tell us much. It's going to take a few years for this to really play out. The other handset makers are going to be watching. If Apple sales remain strong you can bet that more of them will follow Apple's lead over time. No one should be surprised that there wasn't a stampede of removing the headphone jack in just one year.

    • So PC companies held out and provided ports and functionality until they were absolutely sure no one wanted them? How uncourageous of them. How are they supposed to convince people to buy new hardware if it has all the ports they need??
      • not until no one wanted them, but long enough to do a smooth transition

      • So PC companies held out and provided ports and functionality until they were absolutely sure no one wanted them?

        No, they sold them to millions of customers who didn't actually need or want them for years after it was clear nobody needed or wanted them. All those legacy ports/devices did was add cost for 99%+ of customers. For the few who still needed floppy disks or 25pin Dsub serial ports there always has been the option to add them via expansions slots or USB adapters.

        Honestly the 3.5 inch floppy disk should have died in a fire years before it actually did.

  • by Mr. Droopy Drawers ( 215436 ) on Thursday March 02, 2017 @10:25AM (#53961543)

    No, but the death of the Replaceable Battery seems to be in evidence!

    I'm not talking about easy replacement like the Galaxy S5 has (although that's nice). I'd settle for being able to open the back and remove the battery on my workbench without a heatgun and surgical tools.

    Why do these phones have to be disposable?

    • by sl3xd ( 111641 )

      Um... replacing the battery [ifixit.com] on [ifixit.com] iPhones [ifixit.com] typically only requires three screwdrivers, and tweezers.

      Apple charges $100 to replace the battery - and there's a skilled technician to do the job, and it doesn't void warranties.

      The DIY route is about $50, may void your warranty, requires some basic skills and care.

      The extra $50 isn't exactly unreasonable for people who don't feel comfortable changing their battery; skilled labor isn't cheap.

  • Very good (Score:3, Interesting)

    by JustAnotherOldGuy ( 4145623 ) on Thursday March 02, 2017 @10:32AM (#53961591)

    "Two days of walking around the show floor showed companies expressing a consistent unwillingness to abandon the humble headphone jack, even on models as thin as, or thinner than, the iPhone 7."

    Very good, and I'm glad to hear it. There is NO reason to let Apple set the standard, especially when the standard they set sucks or changes with every new model or just doesn't make any fucking sense. And don't give me that "courage" bullshit- I wasn't buying that line of crap then and I'm not buying it now.

    Long live the humble headphone jack- a simple, time-tested bit of tech that still has a lot of life left in it.

  • by zerofoo ( 262795 ) on Thursday March 02, 2017 @11:28AM (#53961969)

    Just a wild ass guess, but I'll bet ALL ports and sockets will be gone soon.

    It's far easier to make a phone waterproof, if you don't have any ports and sockets to seal up.

    I suspect the rumors we've been hearing about Lighting being replaced by USB-C aren't accurate. I do think that we will see lightning converted to a mag-safe style flush mount connector.

    So my prediction for the next iPhone is no buttons, switches or socket style connectors.

    • Wireless everything does sound appealing. Not only could the device be waterproof, but way less possibility for physical damage when inserting / removing connectors. (I have a five year old and I've learned all kinds of new ways to break things). I guess Apple has come a long way from the "No wireless, less space than a nomad" days!
    • by jez9999 ( 618189 )

      Why the fuck do you people need the phone to be waterproof? What do you do, deep sea diving with it? While we're talking about "most people" (which is the only thing phone manufacturers care about), how about this: most people don't have any use for a waterproof phone.

  • Given two hypothetical smartphones - all features identical, except:

    The first phone has no headphone jack, but has a higher water proofing rating.
    The second phone doesn't have as good of a water proofing rating, but has a 3mm headphone jack.

    Both sell for the same price.
    Which would you choose?
    • Given two hypothetical smartphones - all features identical, except:

      The first phone has no headphone jack, but has a higher water proofing rating.

      The second phone doesn't have as good of a water proofing rating, but has a 3mm headphone jack.

      Both sell for the same price.

      Which would you choose?

      The one with the headphone jack... I can add water resistance by adding a case. I can't add a headphone jack.

  • It's more robust, than a silly USB/Lightning connector
  • Is that the headphone jacks tend to wear out with repeated connect/disconnect. It's why I went with bluetooth headphones.
  • I know, your device doesn't have a radio, but we've seen discussions about it recently. My device (a 10" Lenovo tablet that was a Black Friday special) actually does have a radio ... but it only works when the headphones are plugged in. Like the old Walkman, the headphones are used for the antenna. So ... no headphone jack = no FM radio.
    • by dargaud ( 518470 )
      Exactly. Things I REQUIRE in a phone:
      • FM radio
      • SDXC support >64Gb
      • ample video and codec support
      • removable battery
      • Headphone plug

      The rest is either bullshit or used to differentiate between models.

  • >> HTC didn't make the move to save space, but rather to incorporate its "USonic" feature,

    Its fine (although rater stupid if avoidable) to include a feature that only works with USB3-connected headphones, but it is completely retarded to then use that as justification to remove the 3.5 jack.

    You've just eliminated your product from a (probably very large) market sector of people that care far less about some new DSP gimmick than compatibility with their existing headphones, and not having to sp

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