As a part of last week's Made For i conference in China
, Apple introduced a pair of important changes to standards for Lightning connectors. Above all is that accessory makers will now be allowed to include built-in Lightning ports. In the past, companies have been forced to include separate USB connections for charging products, even though Lightning is fully capable of delivering power.
Built-in ports should enable
people to use the cable that comes with an iOS device for charging. In the case of Lightning-equipped Bluetooth headphones, a person might even be able to charge them and listen simultaneously.
Apple is also implementing a new Lightning connector variant dubbed the C68. It's described as a trimmed-down, low-profile option that can be implemented into gear such as cases and docks. Until now, accessory makers wanting to do simultaneous data and power have been forced to use connectors even bulkier than the C48, the type seen on cables. C68 connectors should be able to provide everything in a design roughly the same size as the C48, slimming down some accessories.
Products using the new specifications should arrive in 2015, sometime after Apple ships template hardware to accessory makers early in the year.