Next week sees the beginning of CES, and with it I’m hoping to see a deluge of new Lightning accessories. All of Apple’s star mobile devices have switched over to the new connector, but the accessories industry still hasn’t caught up.
I have a few adapters to make my old gadgets play nice with my new iDevices, and they work great. But the tiny new Lightning plug will not only shrink current accessories, but also make whole new classes of gear possible.
The biggest need so far is batteries. Specifically, battery-packing cases which hug the iPhone and slip a juicy little connector into its charging hole. With the new Lightning connector, expect to see the likes of Mophie (of JuicePack fame) come out with smaller cases, or same-sized cases with more battery packed in. And I’d be surprised if some of the plugs weren’t hinged to make things even easier to fit together.
Docks are another empty area, and something nobody has solved yet. It seems like they should be easy, which is why I expect to see thousands of the things at CES – after all, Apple’s in-store docks are little more than plastic stands for the cables, proving that the Lightning connector is plenty stong enough for personal use.
What about contactless chargers? It’s a lot easier to sneak a tiny Lightning plug into a skin-style case for cable-free charging than it ever was to permanently attach a 30-pin-equipped case to your iPhone. This one is wishful thinking on my part, I guess, but fingers crossed.
The Lightning connector is not only small, it’s also very sturdy, and grips into place like a dog bites down on a rubber bone. Which makes it ideal for mounting small accessories quickly.
We’ll surely see some esoteric gadgets like external shutter-release buttons, but I figure that now is also the time for plug-in IR dongles for controlling the TV, or tiny ANT+ receivers for pairing the phone will all manner of fitness-trackers and bike computers.
And what about speakers? Tons of mains-powered speakers have 30-pin dock connectors to charge and pull audio from an iPhone, but portable speakers make do with USB ports for power and Bluetooth or a jack for audio. But you know those USB sticks with the teeny, tiny flip-out connectors? Imagine a Braven or Jambox speaker with one of those on top, only even smaller, and sturdy enough to hold and charge an iPhone.
Whatever comes, we only have a few days to wait before all is revealed. I can’t wait.