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New Lightning dock connector capable of hosting USB devices - report

post #1 of 46
Thread Starter 
Apple's new Lightning dock connector for the iPhone 5 will reportedly allow for new types of accessories, as the updated port supports the ability to host USB devices.

According to Japanese blog Macotakara, the ability of Lightning to host USB devices will allow third-party accessory makers to create new kinds of products that were not previously possible with the legacy 30-pin connector. Apple's new iPhone 5, iPod touch and iPod nano all feature the smaller Lightning dock connector.

Previously, only the iPad had the ability to host USB devices through Apple's Camera Connection Kit. The Apple-made, accessory USB port allows users to connect devices such as cameras and wired keyboards to their iPad, but not the iPhone.

But with the switch to Lightning, Apple will reportedly offer built-in support for USB hosting. That means accessories like cameras, keyboards and other devices could potentially be connectable to the iPhone with third-party accessories.

Lightning


Apple's new Lightning cable and port are 80 percent smaller than the previous 30-pin iOS device connector that had been around for 9 years. The new cable is also orientation independent, allowing it to be plugged into a device from either side.

The new dock connector helped allow Apple to make the new iPhone 5 the thinnest smartphone on the market. Apple said Lightning ports will be quickly supported by a number of third-party accessory makers, including Bose, JBL and B&W.
post #2 of 46
I am REALLY hoping that since the new connector is all digital, we can hook the iPhone up to our own DAC/Amps and bypass the phone's equipment.

Not that the iPhone puts out bad sound. But for an audiophile, this may be a dream come true!!!!!!

I am REALLY looking forward to what the accessory market brings!!!!!
post #3 of 46
If true, these are about to get a lot more popular: http://store.apple.com/uk/product/MD820/lightning-to-micro-usb-adapter

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post #4 of 46
iOS powered DSLR camera? I like it.
post #5 of 46
As usual, all the whiners who were complaining about Apple switching to a new connector for no good reason were wrong. Obviously, Apple had a reason to switch - and it offers new capabilities.
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post #6 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by SWS View Post

I am REALLY hoping that since the new connector is all digital, we can hook the iPhone up to our own DAC/Amps and bypass the phone's equipment.
Not that the iPhone puts out bad sound. But for an audiophile, this may be a dream come true!!!!!!
I am REALLY looking forward to what the accessory market brings!!!!!

Off topic, but Apple both said that it's all digital and dynamic. Then we heard that an HDMI (digital) and VGA (analog) cables are coming which means that internally the port HW is more sophisticated and complex than we've already seen, unless there will be HW in the cable that will convert it.

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post #7 of 46
Ooooh, devices like a pocket HD full of our DVD's?!
post #8 of 46
I knew Lightning was more than just a small port. Lightning to anything adapters might be possible. But they won't be cheap. There's hardware in those adapters (micros, ICs, etc.). It's not just wires connecting to a different connector.
post #9 of 46
...With the appropriate app, of course. Let's go dev's!
post #10 of 46
Lightning to USB... so I can hook a mouse up to my iPhone...?! 1smile.gif1smile.gif1smile.gif
post #11 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

As usual, all the whiners who were complaining about Apple switching to a new connector for no good reason were wrong. Obviously, Apple had a reason to switch - and it offers new capabilities.

It remains to be seen how useful those capabilities will be. The iPhone supports Bluetooth too, but it is so limited in terms of supported profiles that it's borderline useless. Don't expect the USB host functionality to be used for anything other than plugging cameras, something you could already do with the 30-pin connector. The only thing you can take from this article is that they didn't remove ALL the functionality (USB remains), just most of it...

Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by SWS View Post

I am REALLY hoping that since the new connector is all digital, we can hook the iPhone up to our own DAC/Amps and bypass the phone's equipment.
Not that the iPhone puts out bad sound. But for an audiophile, this may be a dream come true!!!!!!
I am REALLY looking forward to what the accessory market brings!!!!!

Off topic, but Apple both said that it's all digital and dynamic. Then we heard that an HDMI (digital) and VGA (analog) cables are coming which means that internally the port HW is more sophisticated and complex than we've already seen, unless there will be HW in the cable that will convert it.

Where did you hear that?

Quote:
Originally Posted by 65C816 View Post

Lightning to USB... so I can hook a mouse up to my iPhone...?! 1smile.gif1smile.gif1smile.gif

You can't even do that through Bluetooth now; what makes you think you'd be able to do it through USB? Don't think Apple is in the mood to let you plug your own flash drives, either!
post #12 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by winstein2010 View Post

iOS powered DSLR camera? I like it.

Yeah I immediately thought of that.  Pro photogs are gonna lurv that feature.

post #13 of 46
For anyone still thinking this implies any kind of new functionality that the 30-pin Dock Connector did not already support, take a look at the iPad Camera Connection Kit to see what USB host functionality has been and will be used for. USB host functionality is old news.
post #14 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vaelian View Post

It remains to be seen how useful those capabilities will be. The iPhone supports Bluetooth too, but it is so limited in terms of supported profiles that it's borderline useless.

Really? I guess the millions of people who use Bluetooth with their iPhones are imagining things.... /s
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post #15 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vaelian View Post

It remains to be seen how useful those capabilities will be. The iPhone supports Bluetooth too, but it is so limited in terms of supported profiles that it's borderline useless.

Really? I guess the millions of people who use Bluetooth with their iPhones are imagining things.... /s

That's pointless without context. If you compare the things those people use Bluetooth for to the things people use Bluetooth for on all other phones, including some dumb phones, you will realize that, yes, Bluetooth on the iPhone is borderline useless as you can only use it for audio (and a keyboard on the iPad). File exchanging, Internet connectivity, SIM sharing, etc. are all unavailable features.
post #16 of 46
Originally Posted by DeeGee48 View Post
Ooooh, devices like a pocket HD full of our DVD's?!

 

What's the point of that? Put them directly on the phone. Powering a spinning hard drive will kill your battery faster than it could play even half a movie.

Originally Posted by helia

I can break your arm if I apply enough force, but in normal handshaking this won't happen ever.
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Originally Posted by helia

I can break your arm if I apply enough force, but in normal handshaking this won't happen ever.
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post #17 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

That means accessories like cameras, keyboards and other devices could potentially be connectable to the iPhone with third-party accessories.

oooohhh. accessories are potentially connectable with 3rd-party accessories. very cool, neil. JHC.
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post #18 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post


Off topic, but Apple both said that it's all digital and dynamic. Then we heard that an HDMI (digital) and VGA (analog) cables are coming which means that internally the port HW is more sophisticated and complex than we've already seen, unless there will be HW in the cable that will convert it.

 

An early picture of the 'Lightning' cable showed a chip in it, so yea, I'm guessing that is the case.

post #19 of 46
Got my order in by 12:10.
I have to admit that I think its a bit stingy of Apple to not include at least one adaptor in the box. With them being sold out, I'm apparently going to have to be carrying my one cable with me everywhere for a couple of months.
post #20 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vaelian View Post


That's pointless without context. If you compare the things those people use Bluetooth for to the things people use Bluetooth for on all other phones, including some dumb phones, you will realize that, yes, Bluetooth on the iPhone is borderline useless as you can only use it for audio (and a keyboard on the iPad). File exchanging, Internet connectivity, SIM sharing, etc. are all unavailable features.

My iPhone seems to share it's internet connection with my Mac over Bluetooth.

post #21 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by SWS View Post

I am REALLY hoping that since the new connector is all digital, we can hook the iPhone up to our own DAC/Amps and bypass the phone's equipment.
Not that the iPhone puts out bad sound. But for an audiophile, this may be a dream come true!!!!!!
I am REALLY looking forward to what the accessory market brings!!!!!

 

This was already possible with the old cable. I believe that the B&W Zeppelin uses its own DAC. My understanding is that it's achieved by accessing the iPhone's file system directly.

post #22 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vaelian View Post


That's pointless without context. If you compare the things those people use Bluetooth for to the things people use Bluetooth for on all other phones, including some dumb phones, you will realize that, yes, Bluetooth on the iPhone is borderline useless as you can only use it for audio (and a keyboard on the iPad). File exchanging, Internet connectivity, SIM sharing, etc. are all unavailable features.

I use my jailbroken iPad to do file exchange and internet connectivity. My jailbroken iPhone supports internet connectivity but the USB host mode should provide for better file exchange.

 

... and before you go on about having to jailbreak an iPhone for these features, please tell me how many Android owners are rooting their phones to remove manufacturing customization just to make the phone even usable ...

post #23 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by elehcdn View Post

I use my jailbroken iPad to do file exchange and internet connectivity. My jailbroken iPhone supports internet connectivity but the USB host mode should provide for better file exchange.

... and before you go on about having to jailbreak an iPhone for these features, please tell me how many Android owners are rooting their phones to remove manufacturing customization just to make the phone even usable ...

A jailbroken iPhone is no longer providing the Apple experience. Regarding Android, I couldn't care any less about people rooting their devices, Android is crap for a lot of other reasons, too, but that's not what I came here to debate. I only posted here to demonstrate to the people who were already flaming those who, like me, have reasons to disapprove the new connector that this functionality is nothing new (as it was already available in the Dock Connector) and thus they shouldn't expect anything to change. My Bluetooth remark was merely an example of how unwilling Apple is to extract the full potential of interoperating technologies, providing further evidence that USB host on the Lightning Connector doesn't mean anything special.
post #24 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

What's the point of that? Put them directly on the phone. Powering a spinning hard drive will kill your battery faster than it could play even half a movie.

Several thoughts. First, you would download the films(s) you need off the drive to your iDevice, rather than run them off the drive. In this model, the drive would be merely storage.

Second, you could run them off the drive if it had it's own battery; therefore not sucking juice from the device. And I was thinking more of the iPad anyway, not the iPhone (more oomph).

The challenge, of course, would be to convert the rips on-the-fly to avoid the transcoding process. Hence the right app is needed for that job. A rip only takes about 10 minutes; transcoding can sometimes take hours, or even all night!
post #25 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by SWS View Post

I am REALLY hoping that since the new connector is all digital, we can hook the iPhone up to our own DAC/Amps and bypass the phone's equipment.
Not that the iPhone puts out bad sound. But for an audiophile, this may be a dream come true!!!!!!
I am REALLY looking forward to what the accessory market brings!!!!!

That is already possible with the iPhones. I use a Pure i-20 doc and a FiiO DAC/Amp right now. There are several other options from Cambridge Audio and others as well.

post #26 of 46
Originally Posted by DeeGee48 View Post
Second, you could run them off the drive if it had it's own battery; therefore not sucking juice from the device. And I was thinking more of the iPad anyway, not the iPhone (more oomph).

 

Ah, you said 'pocket HD', so I assumed the standard 2.5" port-powered drive.

 

The challenge, of course, would be to convert the rips on-the-fly to avoid the transcoding process. Hence the right app is needed for that job. A rip only takes about 10 minutes; transcoding can sometimes take hours, or even all night!

 

Why wouldn't all your movies already be MP4 (or HEVC)?

Originally Posted by helia

I can break your arm if I apply enough force, but in normal handshaking this won't happen ever.
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Originally Posted by helia

I can break your arm if I apply enough force, but in normal handshaking this won't happen ever.
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post #27 of 46
Folks

Why is that port called Lightning?

What is Lightning associated with?

Thunderbolts!

Have you heard of Thunderbolt and Apple mentioned together?

Thunderbolt has expensive cables because there are micro chips in the cables.

Lightning has cables that cost more than previous versions of Apple products.

Thunderbolt can offer you a cable that converts to HDMI, I know that because I have one before they were banned in the USA.

Thunderbolt can convert to USB 3 and a whole raft of other technologies.

Lightning can... Who knows?

It is only now you are beginning to hear of what is possible with the new iPhone 5 and the Lightning port. I am certain more surprises are to come from Apple and their partners in due time.

Meanwhile check out this URL and this quote about Thunderbolt technology.

https://thunderbolttechnology.net

Thunderbolt technology is a breakthrough in I/O technology and represents the future of mobile computing. Soon you will be able to carry all the power and functionality of desktop environments in compact devices.

— Philippe Spruch, Chairman and General Manager, LaCie

or this one

Technology like this only happens about once a decade. We are thrilled about the performance and simplicity Thunderbolt technology will bring to our award-winning UAD Powered Plug-Ins platform.

— Bill Putnam, CEO, Universal Audio

How close is Lightning to Thunderbolt, you tell me.
post #28 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vaelian View Post


A jailbroken iPhone is no longer providing the Apple experience. Regarding Android, I couldn't care any less about people rooting their devices, Android is crap for a lot of other reasons, too, but that's not what I came here to debate. I only posted here to demonstrate to the people who were already flaming those who, like me, have reasons to disapprove the new connector that this functionality is nothing new (as it was already available in the Dock Connector) and thus they shouldn't expect anything to change. My Bluetooth remark was merely an example of how unwilling Apple is to extract the full potential of interoperating technologies, providing further evidence that USB host on the Lightning Connector doesn't mean anything special.

Well, the functionality is a more generic, fully digital connector. As I understand it, the port can now be configured specifically for functionality since it is more generic (of course, this may also require more backend support from Apple as well.)

 

Like Thunderbolt, this is a new direction for connections that won't be fully utilized until it gets released and developers begin exploring the possibilities. Maybe you can question the timing, but unfortunately, it is also a case that until you actually release it in a real shipping product, developers aren't going to start working on products for it. I understand that it sucks that Apple has removed the analog outputs, but their D-A has only been passable at best, and most consumer electronics companies are moving more and more to digital connections between audio and video peripherals.

 

Moving analog out of a digital connector is a big deal in many ways - reducing engineering complexity due to reducing the need to shelter analog signals from digital signals and digital transmission technologies that are a part of all wireless devices.

 

I am excited by the Lightning connector although I do believe it will take time before we truly see people exploiting the advantages it brings.

post #29 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by DeeGee48 View Post

Second, you could run them off the drive if it had it's own battery; therefore not sucking juice from the device. And I was thinking more of the iPad anyway, not the iPhone (more oomph).

 

Actually, with the Camera Kit with the SD slot, I just use SD cards. Power requirements are a lot less ...

post #30 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by DeeGee48 View Post

Ooooh, devices like a pocket HD full of our DVD's?!


Apple (and shareholders) would prefer you pay more to get an iDevice with more storage. Phone company would prefer you use the cloud or Air Video.

post #31 of 46
The iPad was not the only device capable of USB hosting. the iPhone 4 can also. I connected a usb keyboard to my phone.

The new dock connector is pretty sweet, I am a hardware developer for it so I have access to the documents. However I cannot share any information about it. But I will say that the features it has now are not new as the phones and iPads have had the same functionally on the 30 pin dock connector. They just work a little differently.
post #32 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vaelian View Post

A jailbroken iPhone is no longer providing the Apple experience. .

That's quite misleading.

I had to jailbreak my phone to get MMS working on StraightTalk and I haven't noticed that I'm missing anything. I can still buy apps from the Apple Store and run all of my existing apps. If I want to upgrade to iOS 6, I simply restore iOS 5 onto the device and upgrade it.

So what part of the Apple experience am I missing?
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post #33 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vaelian View Post

Where did you hear that?

38m:20s.

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post #34 of 46
The previous dock connector could already do all of this. This is not news.

How do you think previous devices connected via the dock connector? USB.

If you look around, you can find quite a few accessories that use the dock connector, such as MIDI keyboards / controllers. Those all connect via USB, just using the dock connector instead of a standard USB plug.
post #35 of 46
Well, I can see the signs stating "iPod, Internet, mobile phone and one more thing... " Looks like we get rid of the desk- and laptops altogether. Dock the phone on your terminal client. I miss Jobs, but still love watching Apple.
post #36 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

That's quite misleading.

I had to jailbreak my phone to get MMS working on StraightTalk and I haven't noticed that I'm missing anything. I can still buy apps from the Apple Store and run all of my existing apps. If I want to upgrade to iOS 6, I simply restore iOS 5 onto the device and upgrade it.

So what part of the Apple experience am I missing?

Not missing anything doesn't mean you're using the hardware the way Apple intended to. The point of the jailbreak is t add, not to remove functionality, but the moment you start using a jailbroken implementation as argument your point has been invalidated because the jailbreak does not express Apple's intentions whereas the stock firmware does, and those intentions were my argument.

Quote:
Originally Posted by elehcdn View Post

Well, the functionality is a more generic, fully digital connector. As I understand it, the port can now be configured specifically for functionality since it is more generic (of course, this may also require more backend support from Apple as well.)

Dude, the old port was just as generic as this one, everything you can do with a digital port you could already do with the Dock Connector, but the analog stuff you could output from the Dock Connector is no longer available, neither is the RS-232 port. This is a disadvantage because it makes the development of new accessories a lot less trivial.as now you have to stream stuff through USB that previously you got from analog pins for free, unless there is a way to make the connector output analog signals somehow, but with so few conductors, I seriously doubt it, especially since the adapter does not support those things.

Until I see composite, component, HDMI, RS-232, and analog audio adapters for the new connector, I will remain skeptical about this.
post #37 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vaelian View Post


That's quite misleading.
I had to jailbreak my phone to get MMS working on StraightTalk and I haven't noticed that I'm missing anything. I can still buy apps from the Apple Store and run all of my existing apps. If I want to upgrade to iOS 6, I simply restore iOS 5 onto the device and upgrade it.
So what part of the Apple experience am I missing?[/quote]
Not missing anything doesn't mean you're using the hardware the way Apple intended to. The point of the jailbreak is t add, not to remove functionality, but the moment you start using a jailbroken implementation as argument your point has been invalidated because the jailbreak does not express Apple's intentions whereas the stock firmware does, and those intentions were my argument.
Dude, the old port was just as generic as this one, everything you can do with a digital port you could already do with the Dock Connector, but the analog stuff you could output from the Dock Connector is no longer available, neither is the RS-232 port. This is a disadvantage because it makes the development of new accessories a lot less trivial.as now you have to stream stuff through USB that previously you got from analog pins for free, unless there is a way to make the connector output analog signals somehow, but with so few conductors, I seriously doubt it, especially since the adapter does not support those things.
Until I see composite, component, HDMI, RS-232, and analog audio adapters for the new connector, I will remain skeptical about this.

... and my point was that in a comparison to the competition, many Android phones have to be rooted just to get basic functionality and reliability. I agree that I am working outside of Apple's design, but the jailbreaking community is providing a very stable experience. I look at jailbreaking as a situation similar to Red Hat and Centos - Red Hat knows that Centos exists and actually condones their experimentation to be able to field test extending the operating system without having to support possibly unstable releases to the general public. It's not that they don't want to offer the functionality, as much as they don't want to support it in experimental stages.

 

As far as the digital port, because it is a more intelligent port, the possibilities of using it in different configurations is greater. Sorry, but everything, including consumer electronics is moving away from analog signals. To carry it would simply provide legacy support for standards that are quickly disappearing with the convergence of the consumer media marketplace.

 

I expect that when the iTV comes out, we will see that the dock connector will allow for remote control as well as signal transmission, and possibly more interactive ability. 

 

Actually, thinking about it, I have to wonder if Lightning will become a "hub" technology like Thunderbolt ...

post #38 of 46
Do you really think its an 8 pin( ground) connector by chance? What other digital connector uses 8 pins and will be standard in the future? Duh USB 3!
Apple updated the connector to be able to use USB 3 in the future.
post #39 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by mytdave View Post

An early picture of the 'Lightning' cable showed a chip in it, so yea, I'm guessing that is the case.

That chip could be relatively dumb. It might just be the easiest way to fork the pins for the reversible plug since the plug has 8 pins on each side and the device only has the 8 straight pins on one side.

They could add an additional level of sophistication to the chip to have it identify itself to the device so even if you don't have the other end plugged in the device will know that it's a USB-to-Lightening cable, but I don't think that's needed.

The real sophistication comes with the adaptive port that can use those same pins to do what 30 pins did in the past... and more. I even read yesterday they will have an HDMI and VGA cable coming which seems most likely to be signal processing on the device itself. That's impressive!

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"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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post #40 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vaelian View Post

Dude, the old port was just as generic as this one, everything you can do with a digital port you could already do with the Dock Connector, but the analog stuff you could output from the Dock Connector is no longer available, neither is the RS-232 port. 

 

     The serial port is still there, it just works differently.

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