Future iOS Devices Could Replace 30-Pin Connector with MagSafe, HP Veer Did it First

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27 Jan, 2012 8:00 am


A newly released Apple patent shows that Apple may switch over to MagSafe connectors instead of the “universal”, 30-pin connector that current iOS devices use.

Apple’s MacBook line has enjoyed the useful MagSafe connectors for years now, but it’s possible given the patent diagram above, that future iOS devices could use them as well. Just for reference, a MagSafe connector attaches to a MacBook magnetically instead of plugging into a port so that in case the cord is yanked or tripped over, it quickly detaches, making it less likely for the MacBook to be dragged onto the ground in the process.

Wired Gadget Lab's imagined MagSafe connector for iOS devices

Potential Benefits

The switch to a similar MagSafe connector for iOS devices would give them the same functionality, though because at least the iPhones and iPod touches are much lighter than a MacBook Air or Pro, they probably wouldn’t enjoy the same protection against falling to the floor; iPads likely would. Apple would also have to figure out a way to flow data across the MagSafe connector, since the 30-pin cable is used for both power and data syncing. However, they might gloss over that since iOS 5 introduced over the air syncing.

Also, a MagSafe port would be better sealed against water intrusion compared to the current ports for the 30-pin connector, a definite plus. But again, with products like Liquipel and HzO that could be used for waterproofing gadgets from the inside out, that could be less of a concern.

Overall, it would just make it less annoying to connect cables and other accessories like docks, or potentially headphones to an iDevice since it would slickly attach like the Smart Cover for an iPad 2.

The Twist

I wouldn’t be a good webOS enthusiast if I didn’t point out that if Apple did go this route, they’d kind of be following in the footsteps of the diminutive HP Veer.

HP Veer magnetic USB cable (photo credit: AnandTech)

Because the Veer was so small, HP decided to use a magnetic connector for the USB sync/power cable, as well as the headphone jack.

HP Veer magnetic headphone connector (photo credit: DigitalTrends)

People didn’t seem to mind the magnetic power/sync cable too much, but the headphone adaptor did get its fair share of jeers, since it would be easy to misplace. At any rate, I felt like the magnetic cable for the Veer was a nice, hassle-free way to charge the device if you didn’t already have a Touchstone charger.

Bottom Line

So yeah, it would be cool if future iDevices would use a MagSafe connector instead of the current 30-pin connector. It would remove some of the hassle of charging or syncing your iDevice (though admittedly, it’s not a hardship). It is an annoyance that accessories would have to be remade using this new proprietary technology, but a) the cables and other accessories were proprietary to begin with, so it’s just switching over to a different proprietary connector, and b) overall it could usher in a lot of new gadgety accessories to cleverly take advantage of the magnets, like this iPad 2 stand that uses the embedded magnets for Apple’s Smart Cover to hold the iPad up:

Magnus iPad 2 magnetic stand by Ten One Design (photo credit: Ten One Design)

Face it, magnets are cool. :)

Via Wired Gadget Lab, photo sources: AnandTech, Digital Trends, Ten One Design

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