Next-Gen Apple Lightning Connector May Expand to Form Waterproof Seal

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The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Thursday published a new Apple patent application that describes a next-generation Lightning connector which, upon being plugged into an iPhone or iPad, will be capable of “expanding” to form a liquid-tight seal. The expanding connector would effectively prevent water, debris, or other potentially damaging materials from permeating and […]
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Apple patent application details waterproof Lightning connector

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As the difference between “water-resistant” and “waterproof” generally comes down to whether a device can survive a splash or submersion, removing or shrinking holes can make all the difference. Having already removed headphone ports and gasketed other iPhone holes, Apple has applied to patent a new tapered Lightning connector that could narrow the opening on iOS devices until the plug is fully inserted, then seal the male and female sides shut.

The patent, originally discovered by Patently Apple, depicts a wedge-shaped male Lightning plug with a very thin insertion-side edge and a base highly similar to the current Lightning design. On the device side, the new connector would have a pliable seal that expands to expose metal contacts only when a plug is inserted. The cable would use similar material on the base of the plug or a larger portion of the plug, in either case forming a liquid-tight seal with the device once connected.

Filed in March 2017 and published today, this next-generation Lightning connector patent application is shared with two standard caveats: Apple’s patents frequently do not result in actual products, and the company often contemplates multiple possible designs including varying components and shapes. To that point, the patent application includes an alternate version of the connector with a gasketed base and more conventional shape. It’s also worth underscoring that Apple has been steadily moving towards wireless connectivity and charging solutions, so it might skip a next-generation Lightning connector to fully embrace inductive charging, leaving no holes to seal.

But if Apple does evolve the Lightning connector, the patent application spells out the reasoning for doing so: Electronic devices are increasingly indispensable and more frequently used in harsh conditions with greater damage potential, so seals can reduce or eliminate that damage. Until electronics makers are ready to go wireless-only for charging, gasketed ports and connectors will likely be the best alternative.

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Apple May be Developing a Lightning Connector With a Waterproof Seal

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When Apple (finally) introduced water resistance to the iPhone lineup, it was met with plenty of positive remarks. But there is still work that could be done to help make the iPhone safe around water. Continue reading
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Cisco debuts Cisco Security Connector app for enterprise iOS deployments

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As part of its partnership Apple, Cisco on Thursday released a new security app for iOS, called Cisco Security Connector, designed to give enterprise customers deep insight into, and control over, network activity in large device deployments.
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Tony Fadell-backed company sues Andy Rubin’s Essential over wireless connector tech

Keyssa, a startup specializing in wireless data transmission that is backed by Nest co-founder Tony Fadell, has filed a lawsuit against Android phone maker Essential, according to a report from Reuters. Keyssa has been around since 2009, and the company says it was in talks with Essential for 10 months or so to help provide the technology behind connecting Essential’s new Android handset with its planned family of accessories and smart home devices. The talks ended without an agreement, and Keyssa is now accusing Essential of trade secret theft. Essential began shipping its new Essential Phone in August alongside a camera accessory that connects to the phone wirelessly.

Keyssa provides a small microschip that facilities low-frequency…

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More Smart Connector Accessories to Come Despite Slow Rollout

Apple recently confirmed that more accessories using the company’s proprietary Smart Connector are on the horizon. Notably, the scarcity of supported products has been a chief complaint about the fledgling port standard.

An unnamed Apple spokesperson confirmed the news to Fast Company, stating that “multiple companies” are currently developing products with Smart Connector support, although no release timeline or specific manufacturers were named. As for the slow rollout of the port standard to more companies thus far, many accessory makers told the publication that the blame lies mostly with Apple itself.

First introduced in 2015 as a hassle-free port on the iPad Pro, the Smart Connector is now present on the entire iPad Pro lineup. But there are currently only four products that use the Apple-developed port. One is Apple’s own keyboard cover, two are Logitech-made keyboards, and the last is a Logitech docking station. Indeed, Apple has relied heavily on its partnership with Logitech to bring additional third-party Smart Connector accessories to market, and Apple is maintaining tight control over its port.

But that close partnership has apparently caused problems for other manufacturers. Accessory makers such as Incipio claim that Cupertino has been slow to issue testing standards and components to other companies. Executives at Incipio, however, backed off of those claims slightly — instead stating that they’re focusing on filling gaps in the market, rather than rushing to release a product. “They’re very cautious with what they do, and they to make sure they get it right,” Incipio’s Carlos Del Toro said of the Logitech-Apple partnership. “It’s one thing to develop with a partner that is custom, and another thing to develop a platform so that others can use it.”

Other manufacturers and sources reiterated to Fast Company that testing the Smart Connector port has been time- and cost-prohibitive. In one case, an unnamed source said that it took six months to get extremely expensive components from Apple. The Smart Connector’s faults are especially apparent when compared to the open source nature and ubiquity of Bluetooth. And while Apple’s port lets an accessory run on a device’s power supply, that advantage is becoming increasingly negligible due to Bluetooth’s increased energy efficiency.

Nicholas Smith, CEO of Brydge, also called the port “incredibly limiting.” Brydge manufactures an aluminum iPad keyboard with a 180-degree hinge that can basically turn the tablet into a clamshell-laptop. The Smart Connector’s fixed angle would make that current design impossible, Smith said — although he added that Smart Connector support could show up in future Brydge products “if the application is right.”

While the Smart Connector is currently available on all iPad Pro models, there have been rumors that the port standard could be added to future iPhones. According to one rumor, Smart Connector support would facilitate currently unknown augmented and virtual reality applications.

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Apple says more Smart Connector products for iPad Pro are coming

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A recent conversation with manufacturers mostly points the finger at Apple for slow rollout of Smart Connector peripherals, but Apple itself says that vendors have products in the pipeline using the technology.
AppleInsider – Frontpage News

This could be Microsoft’s future USB-C Surface connector

Microsoft is creating a Surface USB-C dongle for existing devices, but the software giant also appears to be preparing a USB-C Surface connector for its future laptops and tablets. In a patent filing, spotted by MSPoweruser, Microsoft reveals it’s working on a version of its Surface connector port that will work with existing USB-C devices.

The patent, filed by Surface designer Jan Raken, describes a solution that will maintain Microsoft’s magnetic connector for power, while keeping the port on the device USB-C. Unfortunately, Microsoft’s patent does say the connector will only support USB 2.0 speeds. This could render the port a little useless, especially as most USB-C implementations use USB 3.0 or USB 3.1 capabilities. However,…

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Review: Logitech Slim Combo Smart Connector keyboard for Apple’s 10.5″ iPad Pro

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Logitech’s Slim Combo keyboard for the 10.5-inch iPad Pro is a welcome addition to Apple’s limited Smart Connector accessory lineup, and a good option for someone who wants to use their tablet as a traditional laptop replacement. The design is largely a mixed bag, however, that will appeal to some and turn away others.
AppleInsider – Frontpage News

First look: Logitech Slim Combo Smart Connector keyboard for 10.5″ iPad Pro

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The latest option in the slowly growing lineup of iPad Pro Smart Connector accessories is Logitech’s new Slim Combo keyboard, which offers the convenience of a physical keyboard with the ability to easily detach and use as a tablet. AppleInsider offers a closer look.
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