According to a report in 9to5Mac, Apple has released a new specifications to its hardware partners which includes headphones that will be able to draw audio from the lightning port instead of the 3.5 mm audio jack. It is not clear at the moment if Apple will ditch the 3.5 mm headset jack completely. but will definitely add in the ability to play audio via lightening port for devices that run iOS 7.1 and above.
This move is essential as Apple aims to once again establish itself as a leader in audio playback after acquiring Beats. Playing music via Lightning connector would mean, you could play lossless audio files giving a much better audio experience. Adding this feature will open a door of opportunities especially for the headphone manufacturers as they could add a feature where their companion app is automatically launched when the headphone is plugged in via the port.
Features such as adding of microphone or a mini remote control for playback controls is expected to remain unchanged despite this move. One of the several advantages of using the lightening port could be having headphones that could supply power to the iPhone or have the internal battery of the iPhone supply power to the Noise cancellation unit on the headphones if their need be. These headphones could also be just another step in the wearables world as Apple is thought to be working on earpods which can measure your heartbeat or pulse rate. Having the headphones plugged into the lightning connector would mean easy transfer of data.
One thing is for certain, this move would open plenty of interesting opportunities, but for now all of it is speculative. Whether Apple does indeed go ahead with the move, remains to be seen.