Lightning strikes: Apple TV, Apple Pencil double down on proprietary port

Posted:
in General Discussion edited September 2015
The announcement of the new reversible USB-C port, and its subsequent embrace by Apple in the 12-inch MacBook, led to speculation that the Lightning connector could be on the way out. But the company signaled otherwise this week, when it made Lightning a key component of the new Apple Pencil, as well as the Apple TV's Siri Remote.




When the iPad Pro was simply a rumored product, leaks from the supply chain suggested that the device would feature a USB-C connector, allowing it greater connectivity options. That speculation proved to be unfounded --?instead, the space thought to house a USB-C port instead has a new proprietary, magnetic Smart Connector.

That Smart Connector is joined by a Lightning port, just like is found on Apple's other modern iOS devices, like the iPad Air 2 and new iPad mini 4. But in addition to charging and syncing, the iPad Pro's Lightning port serves an entirely new purpose: It's how users will charge their Apple Pencil accessory.

Perhaps most impressively, Apple boasts that plugging in the Apple Pencil for just 15 seconds is enough to provide 30 minutes' worth of power to the connected stylus.

Apple's use of the Lightning connector to pair and recharge the iPad Pro and Apple Stylus is a new approach, but it's not surprising. The Lightning connector has been an integral part of Apple's iDevices for years, and a massive ecosystem has grown around the proprietary port since it debuted on the iPhone 5 in 2012.

Potentially more of a surprise, however, is the fact that the Apple TV's new Siri Remote will also be recharged via Lightning. That makes the fourth-generation Apple TV remote the first non-iOS (and non-7th-gen-iPod-nano) device to charge via Apple's Lightning port -- though it's based heavily on iOS, the set-top box runs its own unique operating system dubbed tvOS.




The new Apple TV will ship with a Lightning to USB cable in the box, though no wall adapter. Apple has said the Siri Remote will last for up to three months on a single charge.

Interestingly, the Lightning port on the Siri Remote also serves another purpose unrelated to charging. Apple will be selling an optional wrist strap accessory that connects to the port and allows users to securely tether it to their wrist, intended for use when playing games that utilize the motion sensing capabilities of the remote.

USB-C does, however, play a small part in the Apple TV for developers. The service port on the back of the unit has changed from micro USB to USB-C, allowing developers to restore the Apple TV or load beta firmware. But thats where USB-C integration ends for the Apple TV, unlike with the 12-inch MacBook, where a single reversible port is used for charging and connecting to accessories.

Apple's embrace of Lightning over USB-C for both the Apple Pencil and the Siri Remote may help to temper concerns that the company plans to adopt USB-C for charging iPhones and iPads in the near future. If this week's announcements are any indication, Lightning likely isn't going anywhere anytime soon.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 79
    irelandireland Posts: 17,684member
    You missed a golden opportunity to title this article: Llightning strikes twice.
  • Reply 2 of 79
    But the pencil has a male lightning so you will need a new female port for it. Is that included? Why no female on the pencil so we can plug it in on our existing chargers?
  • Reply 3 of 79

    If the Siri remote end of the charging cable that is USB isn't a USB-C, it seems like they missed an opportunity to draw power from the USB-C port on the back of the ATV4 to recharge the Siri remote (via the cable), so the remote never wanders far from the STB (for charging).

  • Reply 4 of 79
    Not moving to the much faster USB-C on the new IPad Pro was a silly choice that will ultimately hobble it as a professional tool. As someone who owns a 128 GB iPad Air 2, the restore process, as well as just transferring large photo and video files over the USB 2.0 based lightning connector, is painfully, annoyingly slow. It's the only thing I don't like about my Air 2, frankly.
  • Reply 5 of 79
    Personally I would have loved to see USB-C on both of these. Or, perhaps, the Remote Control allowing inductive charing that can be done via the top of the new Apple TV, which would also allow for an optional stand in case your Apple TV isn't in a convenient location.

    customtb wrote: »
    But the pencil has a male lightning so you will need a new female port for it. Is that included? Why no male on the pencil so we can plug it in on our existing chargers?

    I don't follow. You state Pencil has a male Lightning interface in the first sentence and then wonder why there is no male on the Pencil in the third.

    If the Siri remote end of the charging cable that is USB isn't a USB-C, it seems like they missed an opportunity to draw power from the USB-C port on the back of the ATV4 to recharge the Siri remote (via the cable), so the remote never wanders far from the STB (for charging).

    If that port does allow for power then it shouldn't be too long before a USB-C-to-USB-A adapter will be available.
  • Reply 6 of 79
    pmzpmz Posts: 3,433member
    The put a lot of engineering into the Lightning connector, and said it was the connector for the next ten years.

    No intelligent person thinks Apple is going to discard Lightning in favor of USB-C.
  • Reply 7 of 79
    pmzpmz Posts: 3,433member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by williamlondon View Post

     

    If the Siri remote end of the charging cable that is USB isn't a USB-C, it seems like they missed an opportunity to draw power from the USB-C port on the back of the ATV4 to recharge the Siri remote (via the cable), so the remote never wanders far from the STB (for charging).




    I love the revisionist thinking that takes place.

    If they had done as you describe, the comment would be, "Why on earth would Apple cripple us in that way, instead of letting us just plug it in to any of the Lightning connectors now hanging from outlets around the house/living room?"

  • Reply 8 of 79
    > But the pencil has a male lightning so you will need a new female port for it. Is that included?
    > Why no male on the pencil so we can plug it in on our existing chargers?

    This way you can just plug the pencil into your iPad for a quick charge
  • Reply 9 of 79



    It's possible your issue is related to memory bandwidth instead of the connector.  Since they doubled the bandwidth of the memory controller in the iPad Pro, maybe this will be improved.

  • Reply 10 of 79
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by pmz View Post

     

    I love the revisionist thinking that takes place.

    If they had done as you describe, the comment would be, "Why on earth would Apple cripple us in that way, instead of letting us just plug it in to any of the Lightning connectors now hanging from outlets around the house/living room?"


    Probably<grin>, but don't view my comment as the typical trolls (that's the one less than positive comment I can think of for this lovely new device - I could gush on and on about it, so a little thing like this, it's nothing), just think it would be nice to have that, but as someone's already said, if it can draw power, a simple USB-USBC converter will do the trick very nicely.

  • Reply 11 of 79
    Lightning:Apple ecosystem, under full controlled, Apple internal connection,ex:Apple Pencil won't apply to anything other than Apple product.
    USB-C:Future trend, open & for public, may connect various product from any manufactor.
  • Reply 12 of 79
    irelandireland Posts: 17,684member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by williamlondon View Post

     

    If the Siri remote end of the charging cable that is USB isn't a USB-C, it seems like they missed an opportunity to draw power from the USB-C port on the back of the ATV4 to recharge the Siri remote (via the cable), so the remote never wanders far from the STB (for charging).




    Nat that's a messy solution. They should have thought up an mag-inductive method of placing the remote down on the Apple TV during standby whereby the Apple TV would only charge it when it reached a certain level of battery to extent the life of the internal battery for a long time. All the user would need to do is get in the habit of leaving their remote on the Apple TV and Apple could take care of the rest.

  • Reply 13 of 79
    Lightning:for Apple "internal use" only, Siri Remote and Apple Pencil won't apply to anything other than Apple product, Apple has full control, fully inside the ecosystem.
    USB-C: Future trend, "external use", open & for the public, may apply to various device by anyone, user need its characteristics for their laptop, it is better for macbook series.
  • Reply 14 of 79
    pmz wrote: »

    I love the revisionist thinking that takes place.
    If they had done as you describe, the comment would be, "Why on earth would Apple cripple us in that way, instead of letting us just plug it in to any of the Lightning connectors now hanging from outlets around the house/living room?"

    He specifically mentions the charging cable, and the one end being USB (read: USB-A). He's not suggesting it be USB-C, but that the included cable be USB-C-to-Lightning. Personally, I want more USB-C, and I'm a little surprised the cable and PSU for Watch is USB-A when it's a new product that came out after the new MacBook which has a USB-C PSU and a USB-C-to-USB-C cable.
  • Reply 15 of 79
    irelandireland Posts: 17,684member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by troehl View Post



    > But the pencil has a male lightning so you will need a new female port for it. Is that included?

    > Why no male on the pencil so we can plug it in on our existing chargers?



    This way you can just plug the pencil into your iPad for a quick charge



    Yes overall it's the right tradeoff. The fact that 15 seconds gives you 30 minutes of a charge tells us everything we need to know. Just plug it in during bathroom breaks and never think about charging.

  • Reply 16 of 79
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by pmz View Post



    The put a lot of engineering into the Lightning connector, and said it was the connector for the next ten years.



    No intelligent person thinks Apple is going to discard Lightning in favor of USB-C.



    I would think the think the point was "Why not allow the USB-C port draw power so you could place a USB-C compatible lightning cable in it and charge the remote next to the Apple TV if you wish?" I know in my house, the chances of the remote getting misplaced is proportional to the distance the remote travels away from the TV. 

  • Reply 17 of 79
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 7,453member

    Why don’t you all just ditch Apple and switch to something that has all the bells and whistles you always bitch about Apple not having or not implementing to your personal specifications! And the bitching gets nastier when you all start accusing Apple of intentionally trying to “make” you spend more money. If I thought the way you people do I would have moved on to a different platform 20 years ago. 

  • Reply 18 of 79
    Even though USB-C is a superior option, it's too early for them to abandon Lightning... the frustrated user backlash would be considerable. Apple doesn't shy from switching standards before their users feel ready, but this would be too much, even for them. Give it another year for USB-C to make its introduction across the entire Mac lineup and then I think it's very likely that Lightning will go the way of the dinosaur. USB-C is just better.
  • Reply 19 of 79
    Good to hear that lightning is staying around as I just put in orders for 6 new cables/adaptors for the house and cars to move from our 4s phones. 2 new 6s 64's is the plan!
  • Reply 20 of 79
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Ireland View Post

     



    Yes overall it's the right tradeoff. The fact that 15 seconds gives you 30 minutes of a charge tells us everything we need to know. Just plug it in during bathroom breaks and never think about charging.




    Or an extension from the pencil to the pad to tether it indefinitely. 

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