The iPhone 5 Lightning Adapter Won’t Work With Video Or iPod Out Accessories, But It Will Play Music [Updated]

The iPhone 5 Lightning Adapter Won’t Work With Video Or iPod Out Accessories, But It Will Play Music [Updated]

It may not send song info to your car, but the audio will come through just fine.

Update: Well, actually, the Lighting to 30-pin adapter does, in fact, carry an audio signal. It also has an analog to digital converter to make that happen. Thanks to the fine journalist Mike Rose at TUAW, we now can put this “controversy” to rest. The ‘iPod Out’ function is actually a feature that lets remote screens in cars or other devices share song info and other graphic displays from the iOS device. If you own a car with this functionality, you’ll still be able to listen to music via the Lightning to 30-Pin adapter, but you won’t get the same graphic display as before.

The source at CNN, below, was incorrect in their assumption, and I erroneously passed that along to you – my apologies.

Here’s the original post, with the source below.

With the new iPhone 5 dock, called Lightning, many folks were understandably concerned about using the new device with their old accessories, like speaker docks and the like. Apple tried to assuage their fears, offering a Lightning Adapter that would allow iPhone 5 users to use their older accessories that still have the old iPod-style 30-pin connector.

Except that it won’t work with many older accessories. (Update: We now know it will work for audio, and that video will)

According to Apple’s website, the $30 adapter “lets you connect devices with a Lightning connector to many of your 30-pin accessories.* Video and iPod Out not supported.”

Which means, basically, that any dock accessory that relied on the Video out or the iPod out pins is out of luck.

These are analog ports, and the new Lightning dock is digital, rendering all the old analog pins from the iPod-style 30-pin dock connector obsolete in one fell swoop. Why Apple didn’t include a digital to analog conversion in there is most likely due to price, but I’m hard-pressed to understand why they aren’t offering one, even at a higher price.

What this means is that older speaker docks that rely on the analog audio or video out will not work, even with the new Lightning adapter. You’ll be able to connect the headphone port to any docks wiht an Aux jack, but that’s not really why you bought the speaker dock in the first place.

What does the Lightning adapter do, then? Well, it seems as if it will allow anything digital to get through, and will allow you to use the charging cables that have come with iPods, iPhones, and iPads since 2003.

While it’s all very good to have a thinner iPhone, and I’m not going to complain too much about having to get new charging cables, it is kind of a let down to know that even with an adapter, many older accessories won’t work. That may be Apple’s price for progress, but it may be a price many users no longer care to pay.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments.

  • Bilbo_Biscotti

    The upside is that when new accessories are built to use lighting, it should be a cleaner audio and video signal due the the digital connection. We couldn’t expect Apple not to advance to a better connection standard after almost 10 years just because it would be inconvenient. We buy Apple for innovation, not for the universal convenience.

  • ddevito

    Seriously iPhone fans keep the 4s – seems like a better deal with all the bad news about the iPhone 5 today. No LTE + voice, now this?!

  • perkins109

    I think that apple is referring to a feature called ipod out which allowed ipod information to be displayed on in dash systems of some cars like bmw’s. I think the connector still supports basic audio out.

  • muledoggie

    How will this adapter work with a case on the phone, I wonder?

  • muledoggie

    How will this adapter work with a case on the phone, I wonder?

  • Gabriel Lanata

    I agree with perkins109, the adapter definetly has to do something else. A new lightning cable costs $20 and this adapter costs $30, so if it is only useful for charging you would be paging $10 for using an old cable with an ugly adapter. Also, charging only requires two connectors, meaning that an adapter that only works for that would be tiny (like the usb mini to lightning adapter for european chargers). Therefore I believe that the large size is used because it contains a digital-to-analog converter which requieres actual hardware and size, allowing old speaker docks to work.

  • ddevito

    And yet they will sell millions – what a bunch of sheep

  • LynxCub1

    My concern about the docking station, is the automotive industry. I have a Hyundai with their proprietary cable, and their is nothing stating that the auto industry will be offering these dongles/cables/adapters. I honestly loved the fact that this cable synched to the car and charged it same time….

  • Taverner

    I think Apple meant iPod Out to mean analog line level output, which is a huge inconvenience. I have a combination USB (power) and mini (audio) cable that works perfectly with my car, and spares me one of my pet peeves of using an iPhone/iPod in a car, having to adjust two volume levels to get a good audio quality.

    I seriously doubt that Apple including a DAC in their small $30 adapter to help out a very small minority of customers who rely on audio line level out, but I hope you are right. If not, I guess it’ll be time to try and hack together a DAC that stays in the car. Most disappointing element of the new iPhone in my opinion and based on how I use my phone.

    Gabriel, it is not just two connectors, this adapter does apparently include the digital connections, although I don’t know anyone who syncs their iPhone with their computer anymore. (besides to jailbreak)

  • Rohan Prabhu

    I thought the same thing but the product page shows how an iPhone can be connected to car iPod systems to play music. I think the I’d out doesn’t apply to the digital audio signal out.

    I wouldn’t be this worried about accessories if cars came with replaceable AV systems. Or Bluetooth audio (many don’t). A car is one expensive accessory…

  • The_Truth_Hurts

    “Having to create another device you have to plug into the wall is actually, for most situations, more complicated,” Schiller said.”

    So, basically why they didn’t put in wireless charging was because it would have been more “complicated” since there were more things NEEDED.

    Yet, they have no mind putting some new port that requires a bunch of new adapters…?

    Why not stick a microUSB with MHL….?

    That would have been a far better choice, plus you wouldn’t need all the super-expensive adapters apple is selling. :T

  • Taverner

    Proprietary connectors is a fact of life with Apple products. Sometimes you can see their intention and forward-looking, other times they can’t. Even if they had switched to micro-USB there would have been many accessories made obsolete. At SOME point Apple would have had to (arguably) switch to a new connector to save on space and make other improvements.

    For what it’s worth, as much as it frustrates me that we have lost analog line level output, I was very much hoping that this would be a reversible cable. That’s one huge improvement over USB, and now that I think about it, may have had legitimate technical implications to including any analog signal connectors.

  • npetralia

    This makes me remember why I stopped using Ericsson in the time they had their own proprietary charger / headphone connecter / data connector in one around 10 years ago. Honestly I cannot understand who and why someone still puts their money in Apple products. They are I think by now the only company still using their own connectors instead of de facto industry standard Micro USB. Apple boys and girls will never understand how easy it is for us non-Apple users to go to friends and use a Samsung micro usb charger to charge a Sony or HTC. Unless of course all friends use Apple products in which case the issue solves itself. On the other hand the non-Apple users will never imagine how easy it must be to put an iPhone in it’s dock and play music from it… Anyway… Instead of innovating Apple now sues everyone who even comes remotely close to anything that resembles an Apple. I am quite surprised they didn’t manage to extinct apples from Earth yet because they are called apple. Philips tried the same so many years ago and look what happened to the once leading innovator.

  • Tallest_Skil

    Honestly I cannot understand who and why someone still puts their money in Apple products. They are I think by now the only company still using their own connectors instead of de facto industry standard Micro USB.

    Probably because MicroUSB is completely worthless for the future.

    Instead of innovating Apple now sues everyone who even comes remotely close to anything that resembles an Apple.

    Shut up, you worthless troll. Either go read about what you’re saying or stop saying it.

  • MikeTRose

    Unfortunately this post is completely incorrect. Analog audio out IS supported by the 30-pin adapter, as confirmed by Apple. http://www.tuaw.com/2012/09/13/lightning-30-pin-adapter-works-with-analog-audio-ipod-out-doe/

  • Rob LeFebvre

    Thanks, again, Mike – I’ve updated the post to reflect the new info. Appreciate it!

  • Ian Bradley

    Well this is bloody annoying. I travel quite a lot and usually load my iPod touch with films to watch via the TV out cable in hotels etc. If this function was lost and made to be AirPlay only I’d consider myself shat on by Apple. For one thing I have no interest in paying 100 quid for an Apple TV, UK television is good enough as it is and an Apple TV would be an otherwise pointless purchase. Also, I hate the idea of having to carry it around with me when backpacking.
    Bad move Apple, not happy!

  • Glenn Gore

    I will be keeping my 4S, since my Buick LaCrosse’s in-dash control center has a scrollwheel-like method of controlling my iPod and iPhone. It doesn’t display album artwork but does everything else. At the rate car-makers update their in-dash systems, it will take them 4-6 years to support the Lightning connector.

  • dougmcarthur

    I might actually like this if it gets me out of the “Accessory Connected” jail in my Music app when I have my iPhone hooked up to my car.

  • Ahmed Zaghloul

    I’m going to return my new iPhone 5 and stay with my iPhone 4S because of that reason. I’m not planning to upgrade all my accessories just for a stupid Adapter that suppose to work with my Apple “Licensed” accessories!!!

About the author

Rob LeFebvreAnchorage, Alaska-based freelance writer and editor Rob LeFebvre is Cult of Mac's Culture Editor. He has contributed to various tech, gaming and iOS sites, including 148Apps, VentureBeat, and Paste Magazine. Feel free to find Rob on Twitter @roblef

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