USB Type-C could replace the traditional audio jack
The "USB Implementers Forum" is the body responsible for the USB standard. The board recently announced potential applications for the growing USB Type-C port at IDF 2016 China as reported by Golem.de. One of these new applications include "USB Type-C Digital Audio" to enable audio through the port as opposed to the conventional 3.5 mm audio jack.
A theoretical USB audio standard could provide additional benefits including improved power efficiency, support for multiple microphones, digital noise reduction, and HDCP content protection. The latter, of course, will be a big draw for corporations and content creators and less of a benefit for end-users. Eliminating the 3.5 mm audio jack could pave the way for thinner smartphone designs as well. Its biggest disadvantages will be that existing 3.5 mm earphones will require adapters or force the user to switch to wireless Bluetooth solutions instead.
The new USB audio interface would also require new authentication protocols to prevent hardware damage from faulty cables and improve security. The smartphone, tablet, or notebook terminal must agree with connected devices before data exchange can be allowed to occur. Here, a 128-bit encryption will be likely.
The unannounced iPhone 7 is rumored to be dropping the 3.5 mm audio jack altogether due to its thinner design.