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Apple's reversible USB connector appears in patent application

by Mark Tyson on 22 August 2014, 11:30

Tags: Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), USB Implementers Forum, PC

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A newly unearthed patent application from Apple shows the design of a reversible 'Type A' style USB connector, detailing its workings and specifications. Such a connector was pictured in the flesh a few days back via famous iPhone component leaker Sonny Dickinson. The official patent application, filed in Feb this year, adds quite a bit of weight to the feeling that the depicted cable is a 'genuine thing'.

Apple Insider discovered the Apple patent application for the new variety of Type A connector. The patent documentation is entitled 'Reversible USB Connector with Compliant Member to Spread Stress and Increase Contact Normal Force'. This Type A male plug can be inserted in two orientations as it is 180 degree symmetrical. Some rumours say that these non-compliant USB plugs will feature on the other end of Apple Lightning cables, which are also reversible.

The patent filing says the reason behind the new design is that "Users may incorrectly insert a plug connector into a corresponding receptacle connector, which may potentially result in damage to the connectors and/or user frustration". While we wait for USB Type-C to arrive, with its smaller reversible connectors, and become ubiquitous, perhaps Apple's idea is a good one.

Looking at the in-the-flesh connector photos from Sonny Dickinson gives readers a better view of what is on offer with Apple's Type-A modification compared side by side with a regular Type-A connector (as seen above). You can see the inner plastic mounted connection block slimmed down and centralised. Contacts are then placed on either side of the plastic block. Hopefully it wouldn't make the connector (more) prone to breakages.

As mentioned above, it is thought that a new Apple cable with the depicted reversible USB connector on one side and a lightning connector on the other will be in the box of the upcoming iPhone 6 and iPhone 6L. If that is the case we should see it officially revealed in early/mid September.

HEXUS Forums :: 10 Comments

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Or instead of being proprietary, they could work with everyone to make the reversible dream a reality? I would be happy to place a bet that companies would have to pay substantial amounts just to use this connector.
£30 per cable? Lawsuits for anyone else trying to sell reversible USB connectors? Only available in white?
Wait, is it backwards compatible with current USB IO or not?

I don't think it's mentioned in the article. I know the cynic in me is thinking “Apple, make something backwards compatible? Bah, where is the unnecessary income being bled from our customers coming from if that is true ?”

If it is backwards compatible this is actually quite cool, if not, meh to apple. Once again re-affirming my dislike for the company.
Apple and backwards compatible… lol, they don't exactly take that route do they. Based on those diagrams/pictures they're not going to work in a normal usb socket so it's mac only, for one thing it's too thick.

If this if for the iPhone then how exactly are they going to spin this, the propriety socket on the phone is bad enough when you need an off site charger… at the rate this is going it will be if you want the new iPhone you need a new shiny mac too…

I'm glad I'm never having an iPhone and I don't use mac :)
Another case of copying something that's already been around for a while.
Just google Reversible USB Cable and you'll get plenty of choices.

The only thing that makes this slighlty unique is that it's got a lightning connector on the other end, and I bet someone's already producing those too so I don't get what seems to be so special about this.

Looks to be another Apple ‘first’.
They may be better quality and in white but they've still basically copied something else and applied for a patent.