How (and why) to make your own power-only USB cable

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Assemble your tools for a fun hack attack
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

USB is dirty. Just like you’d never stick your body parts into a mysterious public hole, neither should you plug your iPhone into a public charging station. iOS is pretty good at rejecting unknown connections from USB, but why take the risk?

There are a few ways to make public iPhone charging safe. One is to plug into a power outlet using your own plug and cable. But what about on a plane or train, or other public spot where only USB outlets are available? Or a friend’s computer, one that might be riddled with malware? Then you need a custom USB cable, one that only passes power, and not data. The good news is that, if you have an old Lightning USB cable laying around, you can easily fashion your own, just by yanking out two pins from inside the USB plug.

Here’s how.

Apple doesn’t want everyone to use a mouse with iPhone and iPad

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iPad-Pro-mouse
Not everyone should use a mouse. Especially not this kind.
Photo: Apple/Cult of Mac

You might think it would be pretty simple for Apple to add mouse support to its mobile operating systems. But that’s not so. The company reportedly spent years developing its newest accessibility feature.

Apple is also keen to stress that mouse support in iOS 13 and iPadOS is for certain users — those who cannot easily use touch. It was not added to replace touch for the average iPhone and iPad user.

USB 3.2 update gets faster and maybe less confusing

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USB-C cable
You can’t tell which version of the USB standard a cable uses just by looking at it.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

The USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) today released a description of the next version of USB.  This brings welcome improvements in data transfer speeds, and USB 3.2 also attempts to remedy some of the confusion the public experiences trying to understand what USB products offer.

Add USB ports to MacBook Pro with this awesome power-adapter hub

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Hyperdrive
Get more USB ports for your Mac with this brilliant accessory.
Photo: HyperDrive

Apple is on a mission to kill all MacBook ports that aren’t USB-C, but thanks to an ingenius new power adapter accessory, you can get back the old school USB ports you’ve been longing for.

HyperDrive revealed its new USB-C Hub for the new MacBook Pros power adapters today. The little attachment connects to your power adapter to add two USB-C ports that can be used to connect USB-A devices, peripherals and hard drives to the USB-C only MacBook Pro.

Take a closer look:

Satechi’s new extended keyboards gives you Apple looks on a budget

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Satechi Aluminum Bluetooth Keyboard
Satechi's Aluminum Bluetooth Keyboard is the perfect match for your Apple setup.
Photo: Satechi

Accessory maker Satechi has been around for years, offering a wide range of charging solutions, headphones, dongles, and computer peripherals for both Mac and PC. Their newest Mac accessories, the Aluminum Bluetooth keyboard and Aluminum USB keyboard offer Apple-inspired design at a fraction of Apple’s keyboard prices.

EU may force iPhone to switch from Lightning to USB

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These MFi-certified Lightning cables are sheathed in steel and designed to last forever.
What if your iPhone and iPad had a standard USB port instead of a Lightning one?
Photo: Cult of Mac Deals

Apple has its Lightning connector and everyone else has USB. But EU regulators are considering whether they need to force a common standard for phone chargers.

The idea is to cut down on the 51,000 tons of old chargers and cables thrown away each year.

How to hook up a USB audio device to your Mac

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Mackie's Blackjack works equally well with iOS and Mac.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

If you want to listen to music on your Mac, you either suffer its built-in speakers, or you plug a speaker into the headphone jack. But what if you want to get sound into you Mac? Or you have some fancy speakers hooked up to a fancy mixer, and the little headphone output doesn’t cut it, quality-wise? Then you should switch to USB. And don’t worry — you won’t have to install drivers, or any of the other crap that makes PC use so painful. In fact, using a USB audio interface is as easy as plugging in a pair of headphones, only better.

Chocolate Hub 2 should ship with every MacBook

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Chocolate Hub
Chocolate Hub 2 gives you back all the ports you need.
Photo: Lyle Kahney/Cult of Mac

Apple doesn’t think you need traditional USB ports and SD card readers anymore, but for the vast majority of MacBook users, that’s false. That’s why every model should ship with the excellent Chocolate Hub 2.

This pocket-sized device gives you back all the connections you frequently rely on, including USB and HDMI. It also has a built-in Qi charging pad for juicing up your iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, or iPhone X on the move.