The engineer who created the world’s first iPhone with a USB-C connector is back, this time taking on the task of bringing USB-C to the AirPods charging case. Ken Pillonel has shared a new video showcasing how he successfully switched out the Lightning port on the AirPods charging case for a USB-C port, and it’s fully functional.
AirPods with USB-C are here (sort of)
In an interview with Engadget, Pillonel explained that his motivation for taking on this project was simple. “What Apple products do I use every day, and which ones are still stuck with a Lightning port?” he said.
The project was not an easy one, particularly because Pillonel wanted to ensure that the final product looked as clean as possible. Basically, he wanted the AirPods case with USB-C charging to look like something Apple itself would design. “It was harder because I set high standards for how the finished product needed to look,” Pillonel explained.
He also wanted to make it easy for other AirPods owners to replicate this project. This was done by making the USB-C port a “brand-new replacement part” for AirPods, allowing anyone to simply “unplug the old Lightning connector” and “plug in the new USB-C circuit.”
Despite some of the hoops he had to jump through, Pillonel told Engadget that the project was well worth the effort:
But in the end, it seems the troubles were worth the effort, with Pillonel saying “It is so satisfying to be able to use only one cable and one charger for all my Apple devices. It really is how it should be.” And in a way, that’s sort of the dream: Having one cable that can recharge or send data to any device, regardless of what kind of gadget it is or who made it.
A short video posted to YouTube this week shows the USB-C charging case for AirPods in action. Pillonel also says he has a longer, more in-depth video in the works showing the full process.
Apple’s insistence on using the Lightning connector to charge AirPods is just as annoying to me as the lack of USB-C on the iPhone, if not more annoying. In a world where MacBook and iPad devices can universally charge with USB-C, having to carry a Lightning cable just for AirPods is frustrating.
The saving grace for AirPods is that they do support charging via Qi wireless technology, but that isn’t necessarily a convenient solution when you need a quick charge while on the go or traveling.
Ideally, Apple will bring USB-C connectivity to AirPods sometime in the future, but for now we’ll have to rely on engineers like Ken Pillonel to show us it is indeed possible.
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