Apple has given third-party accessory-makers the go-ahead to manufacture their own 3.5mm-to-Lightning cables. It is also approving the use of USB-C connectors under its MFi accessories program, which now sports cleaner, more modern logos.
The iPhone 5 has been on sale for nearly a month now, but we’re still yet to see any official third-party Lightning accessories. It’s not that accessory makers are slow at producing them, it’s that Apple is yet to finalize its Lightning policies and give manufacturers the go-ahead to use its new connector.
Fortunately, this is expected to happen next month. Apple will hold a conference in Shenzhen, China, between November 7 and November 8 with its Made for iPod/iPhone/iPad (MFI) program partners to finalize its Lightning plans, according to a source “close to Apple’s accessory manufacturing partner.”
In 2006, Apple released an iPod that, to this day, is unique amongst all of the iPods it sells in that it didn’t come with a standard Dock Connector: the iPod shuffle.
In order to save space in a design that was built from the ground up to be as tiny as possible, Apple jettisoned the traditional 30-Pin Dock Connector in the second-gen shuffle in favor of a clever implementation of USB that plugged in right through the 3.5mm audio jack.
For the last six years, Apple has favored this implementation of USB syncing and charging in its line of iPod shuffles, even as every other model of iPhone, iPod or iPad shipped with a much bulkier 30-Pin Apple Dock Connector.
As rumors have heated up that Apple will abandon the 30-Pin Dock Connector in the next iPhone for a slimmer 19-Pin Connector, a natural question to ask is, “why?” If Apple just wants to save space in the next iPhone, why not just adopt the time-tested iPod shuffle’s approach, which is about the most efficient and elegant implementation of USB ever designed?
The answer’s simple: while the iPod shuffle’s USB design is ingenious at syncing and charging, it’s really crappy at everything else that the 30-Pin Dock Connector is designed to do. But what does the 30-Pin Dock Connector do, why doesn’t Apple just use USB like most of its competitors, and why is 19-Pin — not 30 — the way to go?
AirPlay has been around for well over a year now, but the range of AirPlay compatible accessories available is still pretty slim. However, that could be about to change.
Apple is reportedly planning to introduce Bluetooth support to AirPlay, which would significantly extend the range of accessories currently compatible with the feature. The company will also improve iOS connectivity for third-party accessories.