No, Apple isn’t redesigning its charging & data cable again – but a proposed change to the USB standard will allow future USB cables to be plugged in either way up.
Existing USB cables have a top and a bottom at both the computer/power and device ends. The new USB 3.1 standard calls for the same plug – known as type-C – to be used at both ends of the cable, and for it to work either way up. iDevice cables will have the new type-C connector at the Mac/power end, and the existing Lightning plug at the other.
Computers – including Macs – will need to switch to the new type-C socket, but adapters will allow existing sockets to be used with existing computers.
Full usb.org press release below …
USB 3.0 Promoter Group announces development of USB Type-C Specification
Beaverton, OR – December 3, 2013 – The USB 3.0 Promoter Group today announced that the development of the next generation of USB connector has begun. The new USB Type-C connector, built initially on existing USB 3.1 and USB 2.0 technologies, is being developed to help enable thinner and sleeker product designs, enhance usability and provide a growth path for performance enhancements for future versions of USB. This supplement to the USB 3.1 specification is anticipated to be completed by the middle of next year.
Key characteristics of the USB Type-C connector and cable solution include:
An entirely new design tailored to work well with emerging product designs
New smaller size – similar in size to the existing USB 2.0 Micro-B
Usability enhancements – users will no longer need to be concerned with plug
orientation/cable direction, making it easier to plug in
The Type-C connector and cable will support scalable power charging
Scalability – the connector design will scale for future USB bus performance
As the new USB Type-C plug and receptacle will not directly mate with existing USB plugs and receptacles (Type-A, Type-B, Micro-B, etc.), the Type-C specification will define passive new-to-existing cables and adapters to allow users to use their existing products.
“While USB technology is well established as the favored choice for connecting and powering devices, we recognize the need to develop a new connector to meet evolving design trends in terms of size and usability,” said Brad Saunders, USB 3.0 Promoter Group Chairman. “The new Type-C connector will fit well with the market’s direction and affords an opportunity to lay a foundation for future versions of USB.”
“Intel is excited to see the development of the new thin Type-C connector as it will enable an entirely new super thin class of devices from phones to tablets, to 2-in-1s, to laptops to desktops and a multitude of other more specific usage devices,” said Alex Peleg, Vice President, Platform Engineering Group. “This new industry standards-based thin connector delivering data, power and video is the only connector one will need across all devices.”
“The new Type-C connector furthers USB’s lead in addressing customer desire for more flexibility and higher performance,” said Roland Sperlich, TI Consumer and Computing Interface Product Line Manager. “This allows USB to increase performance and continue to deliver ease of use to several evolving product categories for years to come.”
The USB Type-C specification is targeted for industry review during the first quarter of 2014 and a final specification is expected to be published by the middle of 2014. Further information regarding the specification and plans for pre-release industry reviews will be
provided via the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) website at http://www.usb.org/developers/USB-Futures.pdf.
About the USB 3.0 Promoter Group
The USB 3.0 Promoter Group, comprised of Hewlett-Packard Company, Intel Corporation, Microsoft Corporation, Renesas Electronics and Texas Instruments, developed the USB 3.0 Specification that was released in November 2008. In addition to maintaining and enhancing this specification, the USB 3.0 Promoter Group develops specification addendums to extend or adapt its specifications to support more platform types or use cases where adopting USB 3.0 technology will be beneficial in delivering a more ubiquitous, richer user experience.
About the USB-IF
The non-profit USB Implementers Forum, Inc. was formed to provide a support organization and forum for the advancement and adoption of USB technology. The USB-IF facilitates the development of high-quality compatible USB devices through its logo and compliance program, and promotes the benefits of USB and the quality of products that have passed compliance testing. Further information, including postings of the most recent product and technology announcements, is available by visiting the USB-IF website at http://www.usb.org.