The Lightning headphones will be capable of receiving lossless stereo 48 kHz digital audio output from Apple devices and sending mono 48 kHz digital audio input. The input means that the headphones will also support a microphone for audio input following Apple’s upcoming update. Manufacturers will be able to take advantage of Apple Headphone Remote controls like Volume Up/Down/etc, as well as other buttons for launching specific apps such as iTunes Radio or initiating playback controls on iOS. In addition, the headphones can be made to work specifically with a companion iOS app and launch a specific app when connected to an iOS device.
Apple will allow two configurations for headphones: A standard lightning headphone that uses minimum components when paired to a digital-analog converter. The second is advanced lightning headphones that allows digital audio processing features like active noise cancellation. One major benefit of having Lightning Cable headphones is the ability to have iOS device power headphones that require energy for active nose cancellation. Headphones could also power/charge iOS device.
It was rumored Apple would bring HD Audio Playback to iOS 8, and it could still do that before a GM release. In addition, with Apple's latest Beats acquisition, we could see some work done between the two that brings a newer, premium headphone with lightning support.