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Apple's new mini Dock Connector to feature 9-pin, orientation independent design - sources

post #1 of 108
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A mini Dock Connector expected to make its debut on Apple's new iPhone next month sports 9 official points of contact and takes design cues from the company's patented and 'idiot proof' MagSafe adapters, AppleInsider has learned.

The introduction of the new connector alongside Apple's so-called iPhone 5 next month is expected to jumpstart a transition to retire the legacy 30-pin connector that has been a staple of the company's handheld devices since making its debut on the third-generation iPod classic nearly 10 years ago.

In addition to comprising roughly 60% less real estate, the new mini Dock Connector will deliver enhancements in I/O connectivity and transfer rates with just a fraction of the number of electrical contacts as its predecessor, according to people familiar with the matter.

They say the 8 gold contacts seen on one side of the male plug in recently leaked photos of the connector are simply repeated on the flip side. They're reportedly joined by the surrounding aluminum-colored metal shell of the connector, which will similarly serve as a functional contact, bringing the total number of pins to 9.

The new connector will also deliver a number of welcomed enhancements for consumers, according to people familiar with the design, one of which will be its orientation independence when plugged into any one of Apple's future iOS devices.

"The beauty of this connector is that it no longer matters which side is up when you insert it into the phone," one of those people explained. "It's like MagSafe on the [MacBook] - every orientation is the correct one."

The number of functional pins Apple planned to deploy with the new mini Dock connector has been a topic of debate ever since hollow enclosures believed to represent the next iPhone began surfacing with a Dock Connector recesses sized at approximately one-third that of the legacy 30-pin Connector.

Though reports have included claims of 8, 16, and even 19 functional pins in the new connector, the latest explanation is believed to be supported by specific references to a new "9pin" connector recently discovered in the beta code for the upcoming iOS 6.0 release that will ship on the new iPhone.





Like the orientation independent T-shaped MagSafe 2 adapter that Apple introduced in June to replace the first-generation L-shaped adapters, the company's new Dock Connector will help facilitate slimmer, more compact handheld designs that consumers can quickly plug in and charge without the hassle of having to orient the plug in the correct direction when attaching a cable.

MagSafe 2
Apple's new orientation independant MagSafe 2 connector.


MagSafe 2


Due to the abundance of accessories on the market compatible with the current 30-pin design, Apple is expected to provide an adapter to help ease the transition to the smaller design.

The Cupertino-based company is expected to take the wraps off its latest iPhone and provide official specifications of its new 9-pin Dock Connector at a media event in California on September 12th.
post #2 of 108

I can't remember if anyone else picked it up, but I've been calling this one Dock Connector 2 already. Anyone think that's a valid name?

 

Don't dare start on that "the new Dock Connector" crap.

 

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post #3 of 108

Just what society needs another idiot proof connector, are people that stupid they do not know how to plug something in, I know people still have problem plug in two prong power cords into the wall with on prong bigger, they have not figure out how to rotate it 180 degrees.

post #4 of 108
If the pins are repeated on the other side why are we calling it a 9-pin design and not a 17-pins. Would you look at the MagSafe at call that a 3-pin design or a 5-pin design? I think most would count 5 but realize there is only positive, negative and ground to contend with. It's 9 functional pins at any given time but there are 17 pins unless the 8 connectors are one solid unit and electronics negotiate the order of the pins when connected.

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post #5 of 108
Is that an active connector like Thunderbolt, or just some chokes?
post #6 of 108
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post



Like the orientation independent T-shaped MagSafe 2 adapter that Apple introduced in June to replace the first-generation L-shaped adapters, the company's new Dock Connector will help facilitate slimmer, more compact handheld designs that consumers can quickly plug in and charge without the hassle of having to orient the plug in the correct direction when attaching a cable.

I think you will find the the L shaped MagSafe adapters are actually 2nd Gen, as the first MagSafe adapters were also Tshaped. Therefore, Magsafe2 is actually the 3rd generation of MagSafe.

post #7 of 108

Actually, the L shaped Magsafe adapters are 2nd Gen. The first generation of MagSafe were also T Shaped, making MagSafe2 the third generation MagSafe.

post #8 of 108
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maestro64 View Post

Just what society needs another idiot proof connector, are people that stupid they do not know how to plug something in, I know people still have problem plug in two prong power cords into the wall with on prong bigger, they have not figure out how to rotate it 180 degrees.

It's all about speed and simplicity. And to be honest having poor eyesight may also hinder to plug the iDevice connector correctly at the first attempt. So if I have to plugin my iPhone I usually have to put on my glasses first.

 

For my part I appreciate the double sided connector.

post #9 of 108
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Due to the abundance of accessories on the market compatible with the current 30-pin design, Apple is expected to provide an adapter to help ease the transition to the smaller design.
The Cupertino-based company is expected to take the wraps off its latest iPhone and provide official specifications of its new 9-pin Dock Connector at a media event in California on September 12th.

I think a point of interest is also that the 30 pin connector also support analog in/out sound as well as support for the mic and its controls. That is all now on the bottom facilitating 4 more connections when put in accessories which would really allow for a comparison of 13 connects (9 + 4) compared to the 30pin which we already knew was losing its FireWire connectivity. The differential in functionality is not as big as it may seem (especially when one includes AirPlay/iCloud). As far as the depth of the connector goes it think that is absolutely necessary for structural stability and to maintain the friction connection (magnets are just not an option in this for maintaining a connection -- possibly if it were 2 sided and a mag was used to indicate orientation but that does not look to be the case).

 

Just my thoughts -- feel free to shred them all as I am sure some will.

 

Cheers.

post #10 of 108
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

I can't remember if anyone else picked it up, but I've been calling this one Dock Connector 2 already. Anyone think that's a valid name?

Don't dare start on that "the new Dock Connector" crap.
How about "Dock Connector (Late 2012)"?

Besides, this would be the third connector (there was one other design previous to the current connector).

Oh wait, there was the dock connector with the larger plug, with the clips. So the current connector is the "Dock Connector 2S." Would they name the next one "Dock Connector 3" or skip to 4?

Let's discuss this in detail, since obviously this is critically important, just like the name of the next iPhone. I mean super-duper important.

;-)
post #11 of 108
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

If the pins are repeated on the other side why are we calling it a 9-pin design and not a 17-pins. Would you look at the MagSafe at call that a 3-pin design or a 5-pin design? I think most would count 5 but realize there is only positive, negative and ground to contend with. It's 9 functional pins at any given time but there are 17 pins unless the 8 connectors are one solid unit and electronics negotiate the order of the pins when connected.

Personally, I don't see why the 17-pins couldn't all be independent, ie. the 8 on top and the 8 on bottom can all be used together at any one time. As you say the connector is symmetrical to the user, but the device automatically negotiates the order of the pins flipping pins 1-8 and 9-16 as needed.

post #12 of 108

That link that is broken in the article is on 9to5mac.

 

Now what we need is a close up on the pins inside the device because if it is only one side or the other that is contacting then they probably only have pins on one side of the female side not both. Not necessarily of course but if they are on both sides it would leave more questions than answers.

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post #13 of 108
USB3 is a 9-pin standard...
post #14 of 108
Quote:
Originally Posted by cvaldes1831 View Post
Let's discuss this in detail, since obviously this is critically important, just like the name of the next iPhone. I mean super-duper important.
;-)

 

I agree -- hardly anything else worthy of this kind of speculation. Look how bad most missed Air Book, and even iPad. So many screamed "say its not so -- Apple would never name them that". How about the iPlug or the iMate or the IShoveIt. ;-)

post #15 of 108
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

"The beauty of this connector is that it no longer matters which side is up when you insert it into the phone," one of those people explained. "It's like MagSafe on the [MacBook] - every orientation is the correct one."


 

As much as I'm on the record against moving away from the 30-pin connect to a new connector that isn't already a standard, at least having the new connector be orientation-neutral is a good design feature.

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post #16 of 108
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maestro64 View Post

Just what society needs another idiot proof connector, are people that stupid they do not know how to plug something in, I know people still have problem plug in two prong power cords into the wall with on prong bigger, they have not figure out how to rotate it 180 degrees.

It's to stop Samsung from copying the plug...

post #17 of 108
Originally Posted by Maestro64 View Post
Just what society needs another idiot proof connector, are people that stupid they do not know how to plug something in, I know people still have problem plug in two prong power cords into the wall with on prong bigger, they have not figure out how to rotate it 180 degrees.

 

Yeah, making people's lives easier is certainly a complete waste of time. We should absolutely be forced to have plugs that require us to waste our time figuring out how they go in… 

 

Originally Posted by journeyman79 View Post
Actually, the L shaped Magsafe adapters are 2nd Gen. The first generation of MagSafe were also T Shaped, making MagSafe2 the third generation MagSafe.

 

It's the second generation, as both of the original orientations are the exact same plug and both cables can be used with any of the ports available.

 

Originally Posted by cvaldes1831 View Post
How about "Dock Connector (Late 2012)"?

👍

Originally Posted by sip View Post
It's to stop Samsung from copying the plug...

 

What in the world makes you think they won't be doing that? 

 

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post #18 of 108

Why not a magnetic port, just like the magsafe? :/

 

Also, why not a mini thunderbolt?

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post #19 of 108
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Originally Posted by Rabbit_Coach View Post

It's all about speed and simplicity. And to be honest having poor eyesight may also hinder to plug the iDevice connector correctly at the first attempt. So if I have to plugin my iPhone I usually have to put on my glasses first.

 

For my part I appreciate the double sided connector.

Agreed.  It would be nice if apple were to print the orientation symbol on the current connector in a higher contrast color than the nearly invisible grey used now.  I can see it, but if the lighting is dim it is difficult to make out.  In fact this is an issue on my consumer electronics.  My Oppo BluRay player has black text on black buttons on black faceplate.  Can't see the eject button when you need it.

 

I appreciate designers abhorrence of the visual clutter labels and text inflict on their designs, but real life intervenes sometimes with more practical needs.  So, I will accept the idiot proof connector gladly.

post #20 of 108

SAMSUNG, ...and Industry at Large.

 

GET ON THAT ALREADY!!!   ......HURRY the !@#$ UP and "design" one !!

 

Then Make it, and put a SAMSUNG label on it. !!!!!!
 

post #21 of 108
Originally Posted by lvidal View Post
Why not a magnetic port, just like the magsafe? :/

 

Terrible idea; we've been over that.


Also, why not a mini thunderbolt?

 

Who says it isn't?

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post #22 of 108
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maestro64 View Post

Just what society needs another idiot proof connector, are people that stupid they do not know how to plug something in, I know people still have problem plug in two prong power cords into the wall with on prong bigger, they have not figure out how to rotate it 180 degrees.

Ah... where have I heard that argument before? Oh yeah, from the 'This is the year of Desktop Linux' folks... every year. 

You've never had to plug in a one-way plug in the dark, have you?

 

Design that doesn't waste my time is better.

post #23 of 108
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

I can't remember if anyone else picked it up, but I've been calling this one Dock Connector 2 already. Anyone think that's a valid name?

Dock Connector 5.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ltcommander.data View Post

Personally, I don't see why the 17-pins couldn't all be independent, ie. the 8 on top and the 8 on bottom can all be used together at any one time. As you say the connector is symmetrical to the user, but the device automatically negotiates the order of the pins flipping pins 1-8 and 9-16 as needed.

I addressed that in a thread yesterday. I see 3 possibilities for this design.
  1. It's 9 reversible pins but the device end will only read from one side. [least complex, last costly, least future forward]
  2. It's 9 reversible pins but the cable will negotiate how it's connected once it gets power. [somewhat complex, more expensive per cable design]
  3. It's 17 reversible pins but the device will negotiate orientation of pins (perhaps by having two pins for DC power that are opposite each other so the negotiation is simple). [most complex, most future forward, more expensive in the device]

That said, the additional cost and complexity for the 3rd option doesn't seem that high considering the longterm benefits.

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post #24 of 108

what about transfer rates? it's mentioned once in the article, how will it be improved by this?

post #25 of 108
Quote:
Originally Posted by akf2000 View Post

what about transfer rates? it's mentioned once in the article, how will it be improved by this?

It could be USB 3.0. The device could allow for talking back to a TB equipped machine so if you bought the right cable you could use that medium, although still likely with the USB protocol. That said, none of that guarantees a faster rate because there are other bottlenecks. Specially the NAND which is barely pushing over 20MBps in the current iDevices.

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post #26 of 108
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maestro64 View Post

Just what society needs another idiot proof connector, are people that stupid they do not know how to plug something in, I know people still have problem plug in two prong power cords into the wall with on prong bigger, they have not figure out how to rotate it 180 degrees.

When 'Society' expands from 'white techie guys who can read/speak english' to '6.5B people from 18months to 85years old, the majority haven't completed grade school, let alone have a EE degree'  then a 'universal, self aligning connector with minimal attachment force'  is necessary.

 

Or, another target market:  People with Arthritis.  

 

My 80yo mother can't open a pill bottle and can't see her sewing anymore (does it by touch), but she writes 3 letters to the editor a day on her iMacG5.   She can use a 'dock' for an iPad or an iPhone, but heaven help her if she had to see which way the logo was on 30pin connector, let alone pinch to release it.   And she's too old to 'read instructions' (she either knows it already, 'I get that' intuitive, or way too complicated to bother).

post #27 of 108
Quote:
Originally Posted by WelshDog View Post

Agreed.  It would be nice if apple were to print the orientation symbol on the current connector in a higher contrast color than the nearly invisible grey used now.  I can see it, but if the lighting is dim it is difficult to make out.  In fact this is an issue on my consumer electronics.  My Oppo BluRay player has black text on black buttons on black faceplate.  Can't see the eject button when you need it.

 

I appreciate designers abhorrence of the visual clutter labels and text inflict on their designs, but real life intervenes sometimes with more practical needs.  So, I will accept the idiot proof connector gladly.

Additionally Apple who does a lot of research to improve the usability of it's devices for handicapped people, should have found solutions like that a long time ago. Could be as simple as a relief icon on the top side of unidirectional plugs. I am sure even for people with perfect eyesight, such an improvement would be most welcome.

post #28 of 108

I think Booga hit the nail on the head.  Look at the new USB port in a new Mac with USB3 and there are 5 connectors.  Apple's new connector has 9 pins which will equate to 5 usable pins since the orientation can be flipped.  As USB is now the default port for connecting iOS devices to Macs and PCs, maybe Apple have decided to simply go with that but in their own special way.

 

The idea of a mag safe connector sounds good to me.  One concern is that when connecting to units like iHomes etc the connector acts as a support.  I doubt that the new design can act in the same way so makers of such equipment will need to come up with better inserts.

 

The advent of the wireless sync also means that losing connectivity when the connector is accidently pulled out will not interfere with backup.  This is a good example how Apple take one approach (wireless sync) to enable other developments.

post #29 of 108
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post
Specially the NAND which is barely pushing over 20MBps in the current iDevices.

 

What about that faster Samsung NAND? And why the heck has Apple deigned to keep such slow NAND in their devices?!

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post #30 of 108
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

I addressed that in a thread yesterday. I see 3 possibilities for this design.
  1. It's 9 reversible pins but the device end will only read from one side. [least complex, last costly, least future forward]
  2. It's 9 reversible pins but the cable will negotiate how it's connected once it gets power. [somewhat complex, more expensive per cable design]
  3. It's 17 reversible pins but the device will negotiate orientation of pins (perhaps by having two pins for DC power that are opposite each other so the negotiation is simple). [most complex, most future forward, more expensive in the device]
That said, the additional cost and complexity for the 3rd option doesn't seem that high considering the longterm benefits.

I wonder if there are long-term reliability concerns with making the 8 pins on each side independent in such a thin area? In such a case, I guess, option 2 with 8 solid blocks of pins assemble from either side of the connector would be the most robust.

post #31 of 108
Quote:
Originally Posted by lvidal View Post

Why not a magnetic port, just like the magsafe? :/

Also, why not a mini thunderbolt?

As far as I'm aware, Thunderbolt requires an Intel chipset. The iPhone uses ARM SoC's. They are not currently compatible with Thunderbolt.

It's a similar reason why Apple is only just now supporting USB3; they were waiting for Ivy Bridge, which is compatible as opposed to older Intel chipsets.

You can't always just "plug" something in.
post #32 of 108
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maestro64 View Post

Just what society needs another idiot proof connector, are people that stupid they do not know how to plug something in, I know people still have problem plug in two prong power cords into the wall with on prong bigger, they have not figure out how to rotate it 180 degrees.

 

That's a fairly stupid remark on your part. This isn't about people not knowing how to plug, this is about convenience. It's always a hassle to turn the cable the right way, not to mention the icon on the front side fades away after some use.

post #33 of 108
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

I can't remember if anyone else picked it up, but I've been calling this one Dock Connector 2 already. Anyone think that's a valid name?

Don't dare start on that "the new Dock Connector" crap.

😝

How about 'The Artist formerly known as Dock Connector 1'?

I tell you what, if Tim's doubling down on secrecy this year, he appears to be doing a bloody awful job so far. I can't wait to see what 'actually' comes out in four weeks time...
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post #34 of 108
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

Dock Connector 5.
I addressed that in a thread yesterday. I see 3 possibilities for this design.
  1. It's 9 reversible pins but the device end will only read from one side. [least complex, last costly, least future forward]
  2. It's 9 reversible pins but the cable will negotiate how it's connected once it gets power. [somewhat complex, more expensive per cable design]
  3. It's 17 reversible pins but the device will negotiate orientation of pins (perhaps by having two pins for DC power that are opposite each other so the negotiation is simple). [most complex, most future forward, more expensive in the device]
That said, the additional cost and complexity for the 3rd option doesn't seem that high considering the longterm benefits.

I've been thinking the same things myself. There are a bunch of pins on the old connector that do nothing. Getting rid of some of them wouldn't limit functionality, except for giving Apple extra pins for other uses in the future.

What I'm concerned about is that they limited the functionality to the point that devices that connect now won't be usable in the future. I have a device that connects microphones, and acts as a headphone am as well. This is used with a very good app called Audio Tools. It would be a shame if this would no longer be usable on newer Apple devices.
post #35 of 108
Quote:
Originally Posted by ltcommander.data View Post

I wonder if there are long-term reliability concerns with making the 8 pins on each side independent in such a thin area? In such a case, I guess, option 2 with 8 solid blocks of pins assemble from either side of the connector would be the most robust.

 

It looks to me from the pictures that they aren't independent so much as actually the same contacts.  

 

There appears to be a picture of each side above and (just a guess mind you) it seems like the metal tab is hollow, filled with a ceramic core, and that the wires go down the centre of that core.  The little window at the top on either side would contain contacts that go to the same wires.  If that's correct, then there is no way it can be anything but 9 contacts. 

post #36 of 108
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

 

What about that faster Samsung NAND? And why the heck has Apple deigned to keep such slow NAND in their devices?!

Most likely cost and the volumes Apple needs.

 

http://www.anandtech.com/show/5258/apple-acquires-anobit-bringing-nand-endurance-technology-inhouse

 

Not only is the NAND slow, it's also less reliable than SSD NAND. One of the reasons Apple is thought to have bought Anobit is that they have technology to increase the endurance of cheap NAND through controller logic.

post #37 of 108

I'm leaning towards a thunderbolt connection but I guess we'll see september.

post #38 of 108
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maestro64 View Post

Just what society needs another idiot proof connector, are people that stupid they do not know how to plug something in, I know people still have problem plug in two prong power cords into the wall with on prong bigger, they have not figure out how to rotate it 180 degrees.

I must be an idiot then, as every time I go to plug in an orientation-dependent plug like a USB cable, my first attempt is always the wrong orientation.

A better question is, perhaps, this: who is the bigger idiot? I'd reckon it's the company that manufactures an orientation-dependent design wrapped in a shell that's - for all intents and purposes - symmetrical at first glance, and relies on a small logo on one side to alert the user to the correct orientation, a logo which is easy to miss with poor eyesight, poor lighting, or if you're just in a hurry.
post #39 of 108
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maestro64 View Post

Just what society needs another idiot proof connector, are people that stupid they do not know how to plug something in, I know people still have problem plug in two prong power cords into the wall with on prong bigger, they have not figure out how to rotate it 180 degrees.

 

But it's true that people are do have a lot of problems in regards things like this, and the proof is the USB plug.

 

I see people complaining about orienting the standard USB plug all the time, even seriously technical people far above my level.  You don't have to be stupid to be frustrated with that sort of thing.  

 

Case in point ... There is actually a set of rules to the USB plug that you can apply so you *never* get it the wrong way around.  They are simple rules, they are published as part of the standard, and at least in the Apple side of things, they are rigidly followed for the most part by the manufacturers of USB devices and cables.  

 

Guess what? No one knows them!

 

People just jam it in, and if it doesn't fit, they try the other way.  That's what people are like.  I've tried explaining the rules to people several times and no one really wants to hear it or take it to heart.  Granted they fail sometimes on Windows gear, especially on cheaply manufactured Chinese goods where they completely ignore the rules, but that goes for a lot of things. 

post #40 of 108
Quote:
Originally Posted by DogGone View Post

I think Booga hit the nail on the head.  Look at the new USB port in a new Mac with USB3 and there are 5 connectors.  Apple's new connector has 9 pins which will equate to 5 usable pins since the orientation can be flipped.  As USB is now the default port for connecting iOS devices to Macs and PCs, maybe Apple have decided to simply go with that but in their own special way.

The idea of a mag safe connector sounds good to me.  One concern is that when connecting to units like iHomes etc the connector acts as a support.  I doubt that the new design can act in the same way so makers of such equipment will need to come up with better inserts.

The advent of the wireless sync also means that losing connectivity when the connector is accidently pulled out will not interfere with backup.  This is a good example how Apple take one approach (wireless sync) to enable other developments.

Your assumption isn't correct. If there are 8 pins on a side, and the connector gets flipped around when inserted, then 8 pins are available in the same configuration. So if the number 1 pin is on the right of the connector side A, when flipped, it remains on the same end of the connector. Think about turning the device around.

So there are still 8 usable different connections, plus the one on the shell, which is likely a ground.
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