Intel architects Rahman Ismail and Brad Saunders talked up the coming USB Type C audio standard, which is due out in the coming months.
USB Type-C-powered headphones can employ smart power management to, say, turn off the microphone when only the actual headphones are needed. That should help keep the effect on battery life to a minimum.
Features like noise canceling and special sound effects are all possible over USB-C.
Finally, ditching analog connections for USB-C may also result in even thinner phones since handsets will lose not only the 3.5mm jack, but also the digital-to-analog circuitry required to support them.