Here’s what happens when you plug Thunderbolt gadgets into your 2018 iPad Pro

By

Thunderbolt iPad Pro 2018
The new iPad Pro can’t use Thunderbolt accessories, but it can recognize them.
Photo: Cult of Mac

Thunderbolt cables and plugs look exactly like USB-C cables and plugs, but they are incompatible. Or rather, you can plug both kinds into a Thunderbolt port and any connected peripheral will work, but you can’t plug Thunderbolt into USB-C. Or rather you can plug it in, but it won’t work. You see? We’re confused already.

But what happens when you plug a Thunderbolt accessory into the new 2018 iPad Pro?

Thunderbolt ≠ USB-C

As you can see in the above image, the new iPad Pro, with its USB-C port, recognizes the Thunderbolt accessory, and tells you that it’s not compatible. That’s a handy warning, because it’s so easy to hook up a Thunderbolt device thanks to the identical-looking cables.

In this case, I was testing a Universal Audio Thunderbolt audio interface. I connected it using the basic USB-C cable that Apple provides with the new 2018 iPad Pro, and I saw this warning. That means that the iPad can detect a connected Thunderbolt device, even through a non-Thunderbolt cable.

Perhaps future iPads will come with Thunderbolt, or perhaps not. Right now I’d be happy with support for external storage via USB-C.