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

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
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.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 31
    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?
  • Reply 2 of 31
    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.
  • Reply 3 of 31
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ConradJoe View Post


    ?they fail to include standard connections on Macs.



  • Reply 4 of 31
    malaxmalax Posts: 1,598member
    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.
  • Reply 5 of 31
    Sounds like a solution looking for a problem, since the iPhone currently only uses one cable.
  • Reply 6 of 31
    Wireless sync will also make this obsolete. But, maybe from the age of the patent it made sense then, and can be used defensively.
  • Reply 7 of 31
    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...
  • Reply 8 of 31
    irelandireland Posts: 17,614member
    It's a patent, it must be real.
  • Reply 9 of 31
    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....
  • Reply 10 of 31
    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.
  • Reply 11 of 31
    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.
  • Reply 12 of 31
    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 great?even 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 other?s bricks?which Apple?s tech note says is fine to do. My iPad charges off my tiny iPhone brick when I travel?one little brick, two devices charged?by taking turns.)



    2. Magsafe would be very welcome on my iPhone and iPad! Sooner or later I?m bound to walk off while holding my tethered device and have it yanked onto the floor!
  • Reply 13 of 31
    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.
  • Reply 14 of 31
    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.
  • Reply 15 of 31
    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.
  • Reply 16 of 31
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    through a data transmission lines."



    Typo #3 for today (and even if the mistake was in the original, you should note that with [sic] but with AI's record I can't help but believe it was transcribed wrong).
  • Reply 17 of 31
    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.
  • Reply 18 of 31
    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.
  • Reply 19 of 31
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,946member
    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.
  • Reply 20 of 31
    malaxmalax Posts: 1,598member
    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.
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