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Apple To Introduce A New Ultra Accessory Connector, In Lieu Of The USB Type-C

27 Mar, 2017
Apple To Introduce A New Ultra Accessory Connector In Lieu Of The USB Type-C

When a big tree sways whichever way, the earth shakes.

Such is also the way of the world in the devices universe. Industry Pundits are forced to keep their keen ears to the ground, waiting to hear what a certain Cupertino giant is planning to do next, as it would inevitably impact the rest of the world, and not just it’s own industry.

One of the favourite points of contention that the Android hoi polloi have had with Apple of recent years relates to it’s (Apple’s) ‘whimsical’ choices. Be it the 30-pin port that transformed to the Apple-unique Lightning port, or the absence of the 3.5 mm audio jack – all other device and peripheral makers are constantly having to react to Apple’s decisions about it’s own devices.

Even now, when the rest of the world is going the USB Type-C way, Apple’s obstinacy to stick with proprietary port surely might appear to be an arrogant move to some.

Furthering the consternation is Apple’s vacillation – it actually is already a strong proponent of USB Type-C, having campaigned for it with their new MacBook notebooks released in 2015, but for some reason, the company is determined to retain the Lightning for its iPhones and iPads  – which creates a lot of confusion for people desiring universal accessories that connect to every object in their devices portfolio.

Before we proceed with the story, I’d like to turn your attention to an article we’d written in June 2016, “Could Apple Be Removing The Headphone Jack To Deliver Better Sound To You?“, and I quote (for those of you who won’t be reading that article:

At Chip-Monks, we believe that Apple might migrate us to the Lightning port for another reason too – to deliver improved sound quality. No one knows or understands the potential of the proprietary Lightning port better than Apple. And they’re going to juice the port and it’s capabilities any which ways it possibly can.

So, while a lot of people would’ve been wishing and hoping that Apple would for once acquiesce to user-prayers, a recent conjecture that Apple is launching a new Ultra Accessory Connector (UAC), it looks like peoples’ dream of a USB Type-C iPhone will forever remain just that.

The Ultra Accessory Connector is actually intended to ameliorate some of the pain that Apple loyalists who possess devices that use USB Type-C and Lightning ports feel, but it’s a definitive answer too.

When the UAC was spoken about initially, many, many people reacted adversely, presuming that Apple was yet again changing the port on the next iPhone/iPad.

Untrue.

The UAC connector is a connector, an adapter that Apple is offering as an olive branch of sorts. It is to be used as an intermediary between the headphone and the device’s port – splitting them in half so that the top part can be universal, and the bottom can be either a Lightning, USB-C, USB-A, or a regular old 3.5 mm analog plug.

The intent is to restore some of the universality of wired headphones – which, until not too long ago, all terminated in a 3.5 mm connector (or 6.35 mm on non-portable hi-fi models designed for at-home listening). With UAC, a headphone manufacturer can issue multiple cable terminations very cheaply, making both the headphones and any integrated electronics, like a digital-to-analog converter or built-in microphone, compatible across devices with different ports.

The reason that this matter raised such a furore is simple – if Apple ever had any intentions to make a switch in its mobile devices to a USB Type-C, it wouldn’t have ever cared to create an exclusive Made For iPhone (MFi) standard for the UAC.
It would have just switched the port!

As I’ve said earlier, it is not that the Lightning port is whimsical a nuisance. In fact it remains a licensed Apple technology and thus the company is legally allowed to capitalize on the sale.
The Lightning conductor is also a bit smaller, and thus fits the aesthetics of the phone where the emphasis is on strict minimalism.

Also, given the ubiquitous nature of USB-C technology, it becomes really hard to regulate the invisible incompatibility in some cases, and that can be downright destructive for your device.

There has also been a question that why headphone makers can’t start making USB Type-C cables with Lightning adapters. Well, as much we rave about the USB Type-C becoming the democratic tech of the future, it is still a long way off from that. That’s especially true compared to Apple’s more than 900 million Lightning-enabled devices already out on the market.

As an accessory maker, you want to sell to the market that already exists first, not the one that is to come.

For Apple, moving to a USB Type-C iPhone would mean a great deal of upheaval, for little payoff. The Cupertino giant has its eyes set on total wireless freedom, and everything  -Lightning, USB Type-C, UAC – that it’s working with today are just temporary compromises en route to that goal.

So no, a USB Type-C iPhone was probably never going to happen. But now that we have the UAC to ease the switching between Lightning and USB Type-C music sources, even daydreaming about it seems silly.

Much as I know that this isn’t what users were looking for, yet I know that Apple has it’s reasons for doing things, usually solid ones – no matter what the populace may claim, nor how loudly the Twitterati may chant slogans and epithets.