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Apple exploring universal power adapter, data/charge cable for iPhone & Mac

post #1 of 30
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Apple has shown interest in creating an all-in-one data and power cable that could be used to charge and transfer files between unique devices like iPhones and Macs.

The concept was highlighted in an Apple patent application published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and discovered by AppleInsider. The proposed invention, entitled "Power Adapters for Powering and/or Charging Peripheral Devices," is a continuation of a concept that dates all the way back to filings from 2001, and among its inventors is former iPod chief Tony Fadell.

The filing describes "improved techniques for powering and/or charging peripheral devices through a data transmission lines." The accompanying illustrations show a number of possible configurations for charging a device like an iPhone or iPod from the same wall plug that powers a portable Mac.

"It would be desirable to remove the total number of connections made to a peripheral device so as to reduce the number of connectors and cables needed to operate the peripheral device," the filing reads. "By reducing the number of connectors and cables, the peripheral size and the cost of the product may be decreased as well as the ease of use of the peripheral device may be improved (less cables to tote around)."

Apple's solution is a new power adapter that also includes a data port. By transmitting both power and data over the same cable, both an iPhone and a Mac could transfer data between each other while both being charged.

Currently, users can sync data and charge their iPhone to a Mac or PC with an appropriate USB cable. But that cable is different from the unique power adapter needed for a Mac, and the Mac's power adapter does not transmit data.



In Apple's proposed invention, a power port on a device like a MacBook Pro could also double as a high-speed data port. With one universal cable type capable of handling charging and syncing both an iPhone and a Mac, this would achieve Apple's goal of reducing the number of cables to "tote around."

In addition to Fadell, those credited with the invention of the concept are Daniele Deiuliis, Andrew Bert Hodge, Jeffrey L. Robbin, Stanley Carl Ng, and Eric W. Anderson. The continuation was filed with the USPTO by Apple this June.



Apple has explored a similar concept for an all-in-one MagSafe power and data connector in a patent application discovered by AppleInsider earlier this year. In that filing, Apple also described a single cable that would provide both power and data to a mobile device, like a MacBook Pro.
post #2 of 30
So...right now when traveling, I have my iPhone and my MBP. Plus, of course the power cord for the laptop and the USB charging cord for the phone. The phone's cable can plug directly into the laptop for data transmission and power or into the wall with the tiny adapter for power only.
I don't see how this would improve on that (or reduce my cable burden).
What am I missing?
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Progress is a comfortable disease
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post #3 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

this would achieve Apple's goal of reducing the number of cables to "tote around."

How is this a goal of Apple? They use proprietary connectors on iPhones and iPads, and they fail to include standard connections on Macs.

Whenever the neighbor's kid wants to hook up his MacBook to the TV, he has to run home to get an adapter. Apple products routinely need special cables in order to hook up to standard inputs.

"Toting around" special cables seems to be Apple's goal, not reducing them. Actually, buying special cables from the Apple Store seems to be the goal - whether they get toted around is irrelevant.
post #4 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by ConradJoe View Post

they fail to include standard connections on Macs.

post #5 of 30
A magsafe 30-pin connector for the MacBook? But yeah, I don't see what problem that solves. Macs "need" USB ports and the Magsafe power connector is working well (now that all MacBooks use the same [expensive] power supply). Now a MacBook brick that was a small and light as the iPhone wall plug would be awesome, but is that feasible physically? Probably not yet.
post #6 of 30
Sounds like a solution looking for a problem, since the iPhone currently only uses one cable.
post #7 of 30
Wireless sync will also make this obsolete. But, maybe from the age of the patent it made sense then, and can be used defensively.
post #8 of 30
The way forward, as I believe it to be, is with wireless electricity. That I have heard could come in 2012 with a new iPhone. If you look at the facts and a predictable path it fits in because at CES2011 there was product after product with wireless electricity capabilities - and they all worked just fine. In Apple's court though you only have to look at iOS 5 with its ability to wirelessly sync whenever connected to a power source, well, if that were always the case then it would complete the loop.

I think this is a nice idea but the ultimate would be no wires and the competition are hot on it. You'll be getting 60Hz speeds next year as the prototypes are rolled out at the end of 2011 for WiGig and wireless power is on its way already.

If anything Apple will be putting WiTricity into all their products to bathe a room in as much coverage as possible, so thats into the charger, the MacBook, AirPort Express wall adapters, Time Capsule...
post #9 of 30
It's a patent, it must be real.
Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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post #10 of 30
And why would this cable with power AND data not use Thunderbolt?, with PC free setup, storage and recovery over the ether the future for sync is over WiFi/3/4G, but you can possibly see the potential of an iPhone that has cable free slow trickle charge possibly using the NFC antenna.... (for which there's not much evidence) but this is the kind of innovation for which Apple is rightfully famous.

Equally USB2.0 is painfully slow if you have a lot of data on a 64G iPad (I don't) but backing up a 16GB iPhone is slow enough thanks. I think it entirely possible to expect a new / changed standard port (or none at all) on new product releases.

This might not be acceptable to customers unless there's an adequate range of adapters so that people who've invested heavily in iPod compatible sound systems (e..g B+W Zeppelin) don't suddenly find their $600 investment obsolete - and the Airplay version costs even more, but maybe that's the 'future' roadmap - introduce a cable free solution and then over time deprecate the 30 pin standard port....
post #11 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by mikepro View Post

Wireless sync will also make this obsolete. But, maybe from the age of the patent it made sense then, and can be used defensively.



Wireless sync is actually called PC Free. It won't be wireless as it requires your iDevice to be connected to a power outlet. So it's not wireless. Then again, it's still in beta so I have no clue whatsoever what the final product will require.
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I’d rather have a better product than a better price.
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post #12 of 30
Especially with the US mains wall plug (featuring two bare flat plates oriented in the wrong direction, instead of sturdy pins, as in Europe), I can't see how a powerbrick capable to power a desktop machine could be sturdy enough so it isn't accidentally knocked off or pulled out of the wall socket.
post #13 of 30
Two things this would solve for me:

1. I could have a several chargers in different places, and any one of them could charge ANY of my devices. That would be greateven if the smaller chargers could only supply a slow trickle to the larger machines. (I already love that my iPhone and iPad can charge from each others brickswhich Apples tech note says is fine to do. My iPad charges off my tiny iPhone brick when I travelone little brick, two devices chargedby taking turns.)

2. Magsafe would be very welcome on my iPhone and iPad! Sooner or later Im bound to walk off while holding my tethered device and have it yanked onto the floor!
post #14 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by VanFruniken View Post

Especially with the US mains wall plug (featuring two bare flat plates oriented in the wrong direction, instead of sturdy pins, as in Europe)...

You've got to be joking. European sockets have no advantage over US plugs. When I visited Europe, no plugs seemed sturdy, or more study.
I'm not saying US plugs are better, just they all have their limitations. Actually US plugs might be better as we've got 1 pole oversized on a lot of devices now for polarity, plus US plugs can be a little more forgiving for being a tad bend or have oversize spades.
post #15 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by SuperMacGuy View Post

You've got to be joking. European sockets have no advantage over US plugs. When I visited Europe, no plugs seemed sturdy, or more study.
I'm not saying US plugs are better, just they all have their limitations. Actually US plugs might be better as we've got 1 pole oversized on a lot of devices now for polarity, plus US plugs can be a little more forgiving for being a tad bend or have oversize spades.

Beside all that, I'm absolutely terrified every time I plug something in over there. Fricking blue lightning jumping out of every socket.

You 240v weirdos sure like to live on the edge.
post #16 of 30
What we need right now is another cabling standard (like I need another hole in my head).

How about this:

We standardize on a cabling standard for power.. say.. Micro USB, and then we use whatever power adaptor we want from there on out.

For sync? how about BT or Wifi (which is coming I know) or if they really want to crazy, powerline. That way Apple can have their really expensive power bricks and we can have connectivity to all the devices in the house.
post #17 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by johnnash View Post

We standardize on a cabling standard for power.. say.. Micro USB, and then we use whatever power adaptor we want from there on out.

This is already the case for cell phones. They all use Micro USB now.

Apple got an exception. Because they're Apple.
post #18 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by ConradJoe View Post

How is this a goal of Apple? They use proprietary connectors on iPhones and iPads, and they fail to include standard connections on Macs.

Since when are USB, FireWire 400/800, DVI-I, miniDVI, HDMI, miniDisplayPort and Thunderbolt non-standard "connections"?

What PC is made with all of the above, plus Serial and parallel printer ports and a 20mA current-loop connector? By your own argument, all commercial PCs "fail to include standard connections".

[/QUOTE]Whenever the neighbor's kid wants to hook up his MacBook to the TV, he has to run home to get an adapter. Apple products routinely need special cables in order to hook up to standard inputs.[/QUOTE]

What connector does the TV use? RCA composite, VGA, HDMI, miniHDMI, RGB component, ...?

[/QUOTE]"Toting around" special cables seems to be Apple's goal, not reducing them. Actually, buying special cables from the Apple Store seems to be the goal - whether they get toted around is irrelevant.[/QUOTE]

Having a number of available adapters means you can pick the one you need, and not have to have a laptop sized to fit all 374 possible connectors.

But you already knew that, You just want to kvetch.
post #19 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by ConradJoe View Post

How is this a goal of Apple? They use proprietary connectors on iPhones and iPads, and they fail to include standard connections on Macs.

I don't think you know what you're talking about. All portable Macs use the same power connector, and have since 2006. Which is far better than competitors that use varying size connectors, varying numbers of connectors in the plug, etc.

A quarter million + iDevices effectively makes the 30 pin dock connector its own standard even if it's not bogged down by some committee. Every relevant accessory maker has their own dock connector product, even Sony makes iPod docking products. It's a lot better than phone and camera makers using weird connectors that nobody bothers using.

Quote:
Originally Posted by VanFruniken View Post

Especially with the US mains wall plug (featuring two bare flat plates oriented in the wrong direction, instead of sturdy pins, as in Europe), I can't see how a powerbrick capable to power a desktop machine could be sturdy enough so it isn't accidentally knocked off or pulled out of the wall socket.

In my life, I don't think I've broken the prongs on a US style 110 AC plug, ever. "Wrong direction" is more like saying "my dialect pronounces potato better". There is no right direction because neither is more failure prone than the other.
post #20 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post

I don't think you know what you're talking about. All portable Macs use the same power connector, and have since 2006. Which is far better than competitors that use varying size connectors, varying numbers of connectors in the plug, etc.



In my life, I don't think I've broken the prongs on a US style 110 AC plug, ever. "Wrong direction" is more like saying "my dialect pronounces potato better". There is no right direction because neither is more failure prone than the other.

As long as no one tried to defend those enormous plugs they use in the UK, I'm happy. I feel like I'm plugging in a washing machine to charge in iPhone.
post #21 of 30
Didn't the EU pass legislation a while back, thru-out the whole of the EU where ALL phone/computer/tablet power adapters (at BOTH ends of the cable) and power supplies, should be a single standard???
post #22 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bwinski View Post

Didn't the EU pass legislation a while back, thru-out the whole of the EU where ALL phone/computer/tablet power adapters (at BOTH ends of the cable) and power supplies, should be a single standard???

That's completely different. Apple's doing this on their own.
post #23 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by malax View Post

As long as no one tried to defend those enormous plugs they use in the UK, I'm happy. I feel like I'm plugging in a washing machine to charge in iPhone.

In a way, you are, because that's 220 to 240 volts at every jack. There's a trade-off going on, 220 is more efficient to distribute, but the jacks and plugs have to have wider spacing to prevent arcing.
post #24 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Horrunmio View Post

The way forward, as I believe it to be, is with wireless electricity. That I have heard could come in 2012 with a new iPhone. If you look at the facts and a predictable path it fits in because at CES2011 there was product after product with wireless electricity capabilities - and they all worked just fine. In Apple's court though you only have to look at iOS 5 with its ability to wirelessly sync whenever connected to a power source, well, if that were always the case then it would complete the loop.

I think this is a nice idea but the ultimate would be no wires and the competition are hot on it. You'll be getting 60Hz speeds next year as the prototypes are rolled out at the end of 2011 for WiGig and wireless power is on its way already.

If anything Apple will be putting WiTricity into all their products to bathe a room in as much coverage as possible, so thats into the charger, the MacBook, AirPort Express wall adapters, Time Capsule...

lol, another tesla follower wanting to pull the ethers out of the air to power their devices. not to worry, you can already power chips from all of the frequencies currently in the air. only a matter of time... and with the cloud everywhere, who needs to sync and have/own their data?

what we need is an ethernet port on these little devices so they can be used as a server when their otherwise useful life is over. i know a lot of ipods became non-portable music players when the batteries gave up. there's a lot of low power processing power and sensors in those little devices.
post #25 of 30
It would be more practical, a single cable to rule them all and in the darkness bind them.

I have a cable for my MBP, i could just use that to charge all other apple devices, no need to have that usb adapter. Makes it easier if you lose a cable too. If it comes out cheaper, i'm all for it
post #26 of 30
I have 8 wires sticking out the side of my 2011 MacBook Pro.

Magsafe Power
1Gbps Ethernet
Firewire800 to External drive
Display Port to DVI adaptor (several year old Cinema Display)
USB (to cinema Display to USB hubs)
USB (to iPad)
USB (to iPad bluetooth keyboard)
Audio out to multiple speaker system

Using USB ports for iPad so I can easily take the cables out when needed and plug in USB memory stick.

7 to 11 or so USB devices connected to the HUBs (UPS, Tablet, Media card reader, scanner, trackball, sometimes Flight Control devices for X-Plane).

Generally when I travel I have a notebook with me - and it has USB ports - so I plug in the notebook and then plug the iPhone into the notebook - and have car charger for iPhone etc - so not really sure how this is going to help.

I do like the fact that the iPhone and iPod and iPad all have the same connector - that way I can get reasonably priced plugs, wires, car charges, docks, etc and have them all over the house and use whichever whenever, with only 4 iOS devices in the house I must have at least 10 different places I can plug them in - most with wires or docks at the ready. The only downside is dock type devices that are made to fit with no case on the device.

I could likely give up the wired ethernet - maybe - but I have a 24 port Gigabit switch so it seems like a good idea to keep it wired.
I might give up the Firewire drive when I install a Mac Mini Server with a Pegasus RAID array.
If I could have one wire to a Cinema display that carried power - video - USB - and Firewire (or equivalent) then maybe I could get down to just Thunderbolt+ and Audio with as needed wires for iPad - especially if it could backup / sync / etc via WiFi - and maybe cloud takes care of some of that - then at least I could move the USB wires to the hub so they are more out of the way.

Wireless charging pads are cool - but adds weight and cost and complexity - so not sure we will those as built in features any time soon.
post #27 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by malax View Post

Now a MacBook brick that was a small and light as the iPhone wall plug would be awesome, but is that feasible physically? Probably not yet.

+1 for that. A smaller or thinner adapter is exactly what I'm hoping for. I love how portable my 11" Macbook Air is, but it kills me that I have to carry around that brick of an adapter too. It would be awesome if the adapter was thin enough to put into a laptop sleeve too.
post #28 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

That's completely different. Apple's doing this on their own.

No apple is not doing this on their own. A stated purpose of the new EU. regulation was to have apple come into. compliance with the standard micro usb charge /data connection that every one else has been using.
post #29 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Offgridman View Post

No apple is not doing this on their own. A stated purpose of the new EU. regulation was to have apple come into. compliance with the standard micro usb charge /data connection that every one else has been using.

And what does that have to do with this article?

Apple is not working to make MicroUSB ports on their devices. That's not what this article is about at all. They're coming up with an entirely new port.

Or maybe you'd like to explain how MicroUSB can power a laptop.
post #30 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by ConradJoe View Post

How is this a goal of Apple? They use proprietary connectors on iPhones and iPads, and they fail to include standard connections on Macs.

Whenever the neighbor's kid wants to hook up his MacBook to the TV, he has to run home to get an adapter. Apple products routinely need special cables in order to hook up to standard inputs.

"Toting around" special cables seems to be Apple's goal, not reducing them. Actually, buying special cables from the Apple Store seems to be the goal - whether they get toted around is irrelevant.

I feel this "cable toting" pain!
I've had all the iPhones and many docks and accessories and car stereo solutions.


my Mid-2009 MBP doesn't carry audio through the Mini-display to HDMI connection. So when connecting to the TV, one more cable is needed to carry audio. This is especially annoying if you have your HDTV's Audio-Out connected to a home theatre amp.

Apple allowed audio thru HDMI on the next model. Was that just a ploy to make 2009MBP owners start thinking about upgrading their laptop?

Also, The 30pin dock connector games that apple played a few years back, where some iphones won't charge with some docks/cables.....got annoying. especially when you're listening to music with a group of people via the iPhone.
Or you setup your car stereo to play ipods/iPhones through the dock connection.

"Hey everyone, I know you're really digging this music, but i have to stop it to charge my phone ---- because apple won't allow this stereo dock to charge AND play my phone "

I

I agree, the cable non-sense seems to be a goal of Apple at times.
It's nice to hear that they are possibly making moves to improve compatibility with charging/syncing all the devices. (maybe? someday?)
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