USB Stories September 3, 2019

The USB4 specification was originally teased back in May, but now the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) has offered new details on the upcoming standard. The group announced today that it has completed development of the USB4 technical specification, which means engineers can now start implementing it – and Mac users might notice some similarities.

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USB Stories January 10, 2019

How to find out what USB ports are on your Apple devices and other electronics

Whether you just got a Mac, iPad, iPhone or a device from a different brand, follow along for how to find out what USB ports are on your Apple devices and other electronics.

USB Stories March 27, 2016

Lightning to USB 3 Camera Adapter

In addition to Apple’s newly released USB-C to Lightning Cable, which allows for faster iPad Pro charging, Apple also released a new Lightning to USB 3 Camera Adapter. This new $39.00 adapter is geared towards allowing users to easily transfer photos and videos from digital cameras to the iPad Pro.

But it’s no secret that this adapter has other talents, such as being able to power USB microphones for applications like podcasting, song recording, and voiceovers. Apple says that you can also connect USB accessories like hubs, Ethernet adapters, MIDI interfaces, flash readers, and more.

12.9″ iPad Pro owners received an added bonus as well, that being able to take advantage of the iPad Pro’s USB 3 transfer speeds. All of this considered, is the Lightning to USB 3 Camera Adapter a worthwhile investment? expand full story

USB Stories December 22, 2015

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Two weeks after quietly updating the Lightning to SD Card Camera Reader to USB 3.0 and adding iPhone support to the formerly iPad-only accessory, Apple is signaling that similar changes may be coming to its cousin, the Lightning to USB Camera Adapter. Notably, Apple has updated the USB Camera Adapter’s official page to add support for the iPhone 5, 5c, 5s, 6, 6 Plus, 6s, and 6s Plus, mirroring a change to the SD Card Camera Reader that was discovered alongside iOS 9.2. Though iPhone compatibility was added in iOS 9.2, Apple previously left the USB Camera Adapter’s page unchanged.

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USB Stories December 1, 2015

smartoutlet

Leapfrogging the one-device HomeKit “smart plugs” previously released by iHome, ConnectSense has debuted the Smart Outlet with Apple HomeKit ($80), which combines two Siri-controlled wall power outlets with a 2.4-Amp USB port. Using Wi-Fi, the Smart Outlet lets you separately monitor and control each of the three-prong outlets, while the side-mounted USB port has enough power to refuel any iPad — including the iPad Pro — or iPhone at full speed.

Designed with a subtle light bar running across the top, bottom, and front, the Smart Outlet easily replaces a single three-prong outlet, plugging in and covering the existing wall plate with no need for special wiring. ConnectSense notes that Apple’s HomeKit provides end-to-end security for its monitoring and control features, enabling you to safely use Siri or a free app for iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch to turn off lights or activate connected devices from afar. When paired with other accessories, HomeKit also enables you to create “scenes,” simultaneously turning off your lights, locking your door, closing your garage door, and setting your thermostat. A gallery is below…

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USB Stories August 12, 2015

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Nearly one year after launching its first devices with NFC chips, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, to enable the Apple Pay mobile payments system, Apple has joined the official NFC Forum as a top-tier sponsor. Along with the sponsorship role, Apple has joined the forum’s Board of Directors, according to the forum’s official website. The site lists representation from Aon Mujtaba, a Director on Apple’s Wireless Systems Engineering team for the iPhone. Paula Hunter, the NFC Forum’s Director, made the announcement by saying that the organization is “delighted to welcome Apple to [its] board of directors as an NFC Forum sponsor member.”

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USB Stories April 29, 2015

macipadkeyboards-13

Keyboards are important — so important that many people won’t “work” on their iPads without real keys to type on. No one complained when desktop mice gave way to laptop trackpads, or when trackpads evolved into tablet touchscreens, but the switch from physical to virtual keyboards has been met with plenty of resistance… specifically because virtual keyboards offer no resistance. There’s something about the responsive, up and down movement of actual keys, known as “travel,” that people clearly prefer over tapping on completely flat glass.

I’ve tested a lot of keyboards, and since I rely upon them professionally every day, I have some strong opinions as to the best options for different types of Mac and iPad users. You might be surprised by my advice, as it bucks a couple of Apple’s trends (“smaller!” “thinner!”), but if you’re like me, you’ll be a much happier typist if you “think different” on this topic than the folks in Cupertino…

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USB Stories March 31, 2015

Microsoft shifted its focus when it introduced the Surface Pro 3 last year to target both the iPad and the MacBook, but today the company announced a more consumer level iPad-like version of its tablet simply called the Surface 3 with the same $499 starting price as the iPad Air 2.

Google also unveiled a collection of new competitively priced hardware including new Chromebooks and a Chromebit HDMI running Chrome OS for under $100 … expand full story

USB Stories March 26, 2015

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As I noted in Part 1 of How-To: Decode Apple’s Tech Specs pages before buying a new Mac, Apple has designed the Mac purchasing process to be easy: pick a model, pick the good, better, or best configuration, hand over your cash, and enjoy your computer. Since most people get confused by tech specs — bullet points filled with numbers and acronyms — Apple downplays them in its marketing materials, leaving customers to sort through the details and figure out what most of them mean.

But these specs are really important when you’re shopping for the right Mac for your current and future needs. So I’ve created this How-To guide to walk you through each of Apple’s Tech Specs pages using clear explanations, hopefully enabling you to properly understand what you’re about to buy. Part 1 focused on the “big 5″ Mac specs you really need to know about, and this Part 2 looks at the rest — generally things that remain the same in a given model, regardless of the configuration you choose…

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USB Stories March 20, 2015

SAMSUNG CSC

There are now several companies selling USB thumb drives for iPhone and iPad since the first ones with built-in Lightning connectors debuted late last year. By connecting a small and lightweight thumb drive directly to your iOS device, you can avoid limitations of onboard storage and cloud services and instead store and stream media like music, video, and photos using the drive’s additional storage.

A few things to consider when searching for the right Lightning drive: some have a battery that requires charging, companion apps for managing and streaming content from an iOS device vary in quality, and I found some have designs that make using the drives and your iOS device at the same time easier than others. Lastly, pricing varies quite a bit based on the the options below with drives ranging from 8GB to 256GB and other options offering bring-your-own storage using a micro SD card slot. expand full story

USB Stories March 1, 2015

SanDisk-USB-Type-C-Drive

SanDisk today announced a new thumb drive that is one of the first to include an integrated USB Type C connector, the next-generation USB plug that’s expected to arrive as one of the only connectors on an upcoming MacBook laptop. expand full story

USB Stories January 12, 2015

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We previously told you that Apple will be licensing its female Lightning port to third-party accessoriesfollowing an announcement to Made for iPhone licensees late last year. Since then, the company has released specs for the Lightning port that details exactly what Apple hopes to achieve by opening it up to third-parties, including how it could improve accessories. expand full story

USB Stories January 4, 2015

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Seagate and its LaCie subsidiary have announced five new hard drives just ahead of this week’s 2015 CES, including two new iOS-compatible wireless models and three new Mac-only disks. All except one will be available in January from the company’s web sites.

For iOS, the 500GB Seagate Wireless ($130) is an economical and portable, battery-powered hard disk designed to compete with G-Technology’s G-Connect and Western Digital’s My Passport Wireless. Just under 4″ on each side and less than an inch thick, Seagate’s version is designed to look fun, with your choice of green, blue, gray, red, or white matte housings, and uses integrated Wi-Fi to connect with iOS devices and Macs for media playback as well as Android/Windows/Chrome. It runs for nine hours between charges and can connect to 3 devices simultaneously.

Seagate Seven ($100) is a Mac-only alternative that promises to be the world’s thinnest portable hard drive. Made from 100% stainless steel, the enclosure is only 7mm thick and includes a USB 3.0 cable for connecting to a computer, giving up wireless in order to achieve its small size. In a break from traditionally boxy or rounded hard drives, Seven is actually slim enough to let you see the contours of the traditional hard disk mechanism inside. Three additional drives are discussed below…

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USB Stories October 3, 2014

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While most of my content goes straight to the cloud these days and is usually easily accessible to move around, download or stream from any of my devices, I still found myself getting a lot of use out of Hyper’s new iStick. It’s one of the first made-for-iPhone USB flash drives that also includes an integrated Lightning connector to easily transfer content to and from the device to others. Hyper’s companion app is what makes the experience more than just storage, however… expand full story

USB Stories September 1, 2014

Analyst says not to expect reversible USB Lightning connector to ship with iPhone 6

In a new report, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has said not to expect the redesigned Lightning connector or power adaptor to feature as part of the iPhone 6’s package, quoting cost reasons. The new Lightning connector was intriguing in that it was reversible on both ends, including a specially-designed USB connector so that it could be inserted both ways up.

USB Stories July 31, 2014

Security researchers say USB security ‘broken,’ can take over Macs or PCs

The USB standard has a fundamental security flaw that allows an attacker to take over any device it is connected to, whether PC or Mac, say security researchers in a frightening piece by Wired.

Describing the proof-of-concept Karsten Nohl and Jakob Lell plan to present at the Black Hat conference next week, they say the weakness is fundamental to the way in which USB works. Rather than storing malicious files on a USB device, the researchers managed to hack the USB controller chip that enables a USB device to communicate with a computer, changing its firmware. That means it can allow absolutely any USB device, from a USB key to a keyboard, to be compromised.

“These problems can’t be patched,” says Nohl, who will join Lell in presenting the research at the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas. “We’re exploiting the very way that USB is designed.”

“You can give it to your IT security people, they scan it, delete some files, and give it back to you telling you it’s clean, [but] the cleaning process doesn’t even touch the files we’re talking about.”

Unlike most malware, which targets Windows, this exploit allows any USB device to emulate a keyboard or mouse, taking complete control of both PCs and Macs.

As it’s undetectable, the exploit could be silently added to a USB key when it is inserted into a PC, and then infect the next device it’s connected to. There is, say the researchers, no protection at all against the method of attack short of never sharing USB devices – treating them as you’d treat a hypodermic needle: only ever using one you know to be brand new, and not dreaming of allowing anyone else to share it.

USB Stories May 12, 2014

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Hyper— we’ve reviewed some of its MacBook batteries and iPhone accessories in the past— is today announcing the first Made-For-iPhone/iPad/iPod touch (MFi) flash drive that includes a built-in Lightning connector. Unfortunately you can’t get your hands on one just yet, but you can preorder through a funding campaign the company just launched on Kickstarter.

Hyper told us it’s been working on the product for over two years and just recently got approval from Apple: “As expected, Apple had many concerns for iOS storage products like the iStick. We actually started MFi application for this product more than 2 years ago. It was definitely not an easy process but we managed to address all of Apple’s concerns and finally just got MFi approval.”

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USB Stories April 20, 2014

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Recently, I’ve had the opportunity to try out a number of Satechi’s USB hubs in my effort to combat my growing need to wire in more stuff to my Mac’s 4 USB ports. While wireless is often more convenient and downright necessary on laptops to have a good experience, I still enjoy the speed and reliability of a wired connection on my desktop setup. To have a completely ergonomic experience and avoid plugging and unplugging things, a USB hub of some sort is definitely needed. The challenge to buying the right hub for your needs is deciphering how each hub differs; it’s not just limited to the number of ports available…

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USB Stories April 2, 2014

Back in December, the the USB 3.0 Promoter Group announced that a next-generation of USB connectors was under development. The new standard, dubbed “USB Type-C,” introduces a new design, a smaller overall footprint, and usability enhancements such as a symmetrical, reversible connector that doesn’t require users to worry about orientation when plugging in (much like with Apple’s Lightning connector.) It will also allow manufacturers to create thinner and sleeker product designs and scale for future USB performance standards with a transfer speed up to 10Gbps. Today we get our first look at what the cable and connectors will actually look like with a rendering courtesy of Foxconn (via TheVerge). expand full story

USB Stories February 6, 2014

Need occasional access to Windows on your Mac? Install it from a USB key …

If you need occasional access to Windows and don’t want to install it from a DVD, a how-to guide by Sam Power may have the perfect solution. It talks you through exactly how to create a Bootcamp-compatible USB key installer for either Windows 7 or 8 compatible.

A 4GB USB key is sufficient, and the complete process can be done in 20-40 minutes.

(Update: sorry for the confusion. You can’t install Bootcamp onto a USB Key yet. You’ll need Paralllels or VWMware for that.)

USB Stories December 4, 2013

USB to go both ways in next gen revision

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 Stories November 28, 2013

Hyper offers up to 50% off battery packs, Wi-Fi USB drives & more for your MacBook, iPhone & iPad

There are a ton of great Black Friday deals this year, but if you’re looking for an external battery pack for your MacBook, there aren’t many options other than Hyper. We’ve reviewed various models of the HyperJuice Battery Packs in the past, and today the company let us know it’s offering everything in its online store up for up to 50% off.

That includes its colorful dual USB HyperJuice Battery Packs, its WiFi connected iUSBport camera accessories and hard drives, and much more. Some of the notables (pictured above) include: $50 off HyperJuice MacBook batteries, $60 off USB battery packs, $100 off the iUSBportCAMERA, and $60 off the HyperJuice Battery + iPad stand. iUSBportCAMERA will let you wirelessly tether from most DSLRs to iOS devices, while the iUSBport mini will allow you to wirelessly connect to your MicroSDXC or use it as a USB flash drive.

Hyper has long been just about the only company on the market offering portable external battery packs for MacBooks. Apple doesn’t let third-party accessory makers use the MagSafe adapter, so Hyper’s DIY kit for modding your cable is the reason it’s still the only one with portable MacBook batteries. Good news: There is also an option to order a premodified MagSafe cable directly from Hyper. You can of course use the batteries for many other devices too thanks to built-in USB ports. Read about our experience with it here.

These are just some of the most notable deals available through Hyper for Black Friday:

HyperJuice Battery Packs HyperJuice2 Battery Pack for MacBook (100Wh) – Now $249.95 ($50 off MSRP $299.95) HyperJuice1.5 Battery Pack for MacBook (60Wh) – Now $139.95 ($30 off MSRP $169.95) HyperJuice1.5 Battery Pack for MacBook (100Wh) – Now $199.95 ($50 off MSRP $249.95) HyperJuice1.5 Battery Pack for MacBook (150Wh) – Now $299.95 ($50 off MSRP $349.95) HyperJuice1.5 Battery Pack for MacBook (222Wh) – Now $399.95 ($50 off MSRP $449.95) HyperJuice Micro 3600mAh Dual USB Battery Pack – Now $39.95 ($30 off MSRP $69.95) HyperJuice Mini 7200mAh Dual USB Battery Pack – Now $59.95 ($40 off MSRP $99.95) HyperJuice Stand 11000mAh USB Battery Pack – Now $69.95 ($60 off MSRP $129.95) HyperJuice Plug 10400mAh Dual USB Battery Pack – Now $79.95 ($50 off MSRP $129.95) HyperJuice Plug 15600mAh Dual USB Battery Pack – Now $99.95 ($60 off MSRP $159.95)

HyperDrive Storage Products iUSBportCAMERA DSLR Wireless Tether to iDevice – Now $199.95 ($100 off MSRP $299.95) iUSBport Mini Wireless USB Flash Drive for iDevice – Now $79.95 ($10 off MSRP $89.95) iUSBport Wireless USB Hub for iPad, iPhone, Android – Now $89.95 ($10 off MSRP $99.95) HyperDrive UDMA2 Memory Card Backup Device & Photo Viewer – Now 10% off all models HyperDrive Hard Drive for iPad – Now 10% off all models

HyperShield Apple Accessories HyperShield Back Covers for iPad (various styles and colors) – $4.99 (Usual $19.95-$39.95) HyperShield Stylus (various styles and colors) – $4.99-$7.99 (Usual $9.95-$19.95) ThinShield World’s Thinnest & Lightest iPhone 5/5s Case – $9.95 (50% off MSRP $19.95)

HyperThin World Thinnest HDMI Cables 0.8m – $14.95 ($5 off MSRP $19.95) 2.5m – $29.95 ($10 off MSRP $39.95)

USB Stories November 15, 2013

Quick Review: Griffin Powerdock 5 Port USB charger: Expensive but effective

I’ve been using the Griffin Powerdock 5 to charge my devices for over a month now and I don’t have anything terribly profound to say about it.  It works.  It works well.  It charges 5 devices including iPads and tablets as quickly as possible. The output for each USB port is 10 watts (5 volts DC @ 2.1 amps) for each charging bay.

You can even charge portable speakers like the Logitech Boom or JBL Charge as fast as their native chargers will. It also looks nice (when you get short wires pictured above, not my set up below).

The problem? The retail price is $100, and we’re seeing low prices around $75. That’s a little bit nuts for a 5-port charger even if it is well designed and effective.

There are nice items at Amazon including this Anker 5-port USB charger (which can also quick-charge 2 iPads) for $16-20 and gets great reviews. It is hard to justify paying 4 times the price for a nice plastic stand.  But it you think it is pretty, have at it:

Not me:

USB Stories October 23, 2013

OS X Mavericks causing issues for DisplayLink USB displays

As noted by ArsTechnica, following yesterday’s release of OS X Mavericks, some users of USB-powered monitors that use DisplayLink drivers have experienced a variety of problems after updating.

The problems have already been identified by DisplayLink in a knowledge base article published on its website:

The following issues have been found on OS X 10.9 and do not currently have a resolution

  • Some applications can show severe flickering on DisplayLink screens. Examples of applications that show this issue are Safari, QuickTime and the App store.
  • Some applications can show corruption and/or missing contents while updating windows contents. Examples are Maps, iBooks and the Dock.
  • Display arrangement is not kept when using 2 or more DisplayLink displays.
  • All screens black and unusable after unplugging a DisplayLink screen. This is caused by Apple’s Window server crashing. This can be recovered by replugging the DisplayLink device.
  • On the Retina Macbook Pro, changing the layout to mirror logs the user out. Again this is caused by Apple’s Window server crashing.

DisplayLink is working on an update for some of the performance issue with Mavericks, but the company explained that the majority of bugs will have to be fixed by Apple:

Unfortunately there appear to be regressions in these interfaces in OS X 10.9 which are exposed when using DisplayLink screens. DisplayLink does not have workarounds to fix these issues and requires Apple to fix these problems in future 10.9 OS X updates.

DisplayLink has raised these bugs to Apple, but if you are a developer and affected by these problems, please also raise these bugs to Apple to help show fixes are required and it is affecting end users using DisplayLink products.

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