Chromebooks may be set to join the mobile world in leaving behind headphone jacks, based on a recent change in the Chromium Gerrit to the MediaTek-powered Chrome OS gadget referred to by the codename "Krane." The change itself, first spotted today, is straightforward. It simply removes all nodes that have anything to do with a 3.5mm audio jack from within the code for that particular board.
An associated comment also explains that Krane has no 3.5mm jack, so the code is an entirely unnecessary inclusion.
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Parity between Android smartphones and Chrome OS gadgets has been rapidly approaching for well over a year now and it's entirely possible that's feeding into what exactly the goal with Krane is — at least in terms of the headphone jack removal.
On the mobile side of the Google spectrum, headphone jacks are one of a few once-prominent features to be dismissed for many devices from a plethora of OEMs including a significant number of flagships.
The rise of true wireless Bluetooth audio, improvements to the quality of that, and the media-streaming capabilities of USB Type-C, coupled with how much easier it is to make devices resilient against water or dust incursion if no 3.5mm jack is present, appear to be driving forces behind that.
On that side of the equation, it also tends to be Qualcomm-powered gadgets leading the charge. For Chrome OS, the trends tend to follow but there's still no Snapdragon Chromebook available, AMD is still just getting its starts, and Intel is the only other real competitor — setting aside Rockchip SoCs. The removal of the headphone jack on Chromebooks and on other gadgets is, at this point, a certain eventuality.
Now, there are a few other possible explanations, such as the possibility that this gadget will be placed at a retail location as a kiosk or similar display. It might also be removed to save space and allow a slimmer build. But it seems as though it's going to be MediaTek gadgets leading the charge for the laptops and tablets operating on Chrome OS away from headphone jacks.
What else is known about Krane and when is it likely to arrive?
Any attempt at gauging exactly when Krane will land on the consumer market is going to be even more futile. When it was last spotted back in April, development was pushing forward at a reasonably rapid pace and it would not have been unreasonable to assume it would be ready by the end of this year.
That speculation was further fueled by AMD's entry into the Chromebook market and top-tier AMD chips being spotted in the repository as well as the impending arrival of Snapdragon-powered machines. Krane is being built on one of MediaTek's most powerful platforms, the octa-core chip, the MT8183.
That SoC, in other implementations, features four ARM Cortex A73 cores at 1.99GHz and four A53 cores for energy efficiency. It's compatible with LPDDR4 RAM too, positioning it as a perfect competitor for the incoming premium chipsets. Other details remain elusive though. So there's no way to know with any certainty when it will finally arrive.