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Friday, October 16, 2015

Lightning strikes again for Apple, as new accessories go their own way

Apple's newest Mac accessories use the same proprietary connection as its iPhones and iPads, dashing hopes the company would embrace a common alternative.

Microsoft's new smartphones have it. Google's new tablet has it. Even the upstart OnePlus 2 is on board. Apple, at least when it comes to its new accessories, would rather not commit.

The object of affection outside Apple is USB Type-C, which is quickly becoming the go-to connection port for this year's top-shelf devices, bringing the new charging standard tantalizingly close to becoming universal for your household's smartphones, tablets and laptops.

And what's not to love about this blandly named flavor of USB? It's one port that can be used for charging, running video to a TV and downloading files. It's also reversible so folks don't have to fumble to orient cords properly. With lots of devices using that standard, people won't need to fill a drawer with different cables; they'll just need a USB-C cord or two for PCs, phones and tablets.

Yet things are rarely simple in the tech world, especially when Apple is involved. The Cupertino, California, tech giant on Tuesday unveiled a new keyboard, mouse and trackpad that charge using Apple's proprietary Lightning port, the same type found on the iPhone and iPad. For now, at least, that dashes the hope that Apple may move to a standard everyone else is slowly embracing.

People can be forgiven for thinking Apple, the most valuable company worldwide, may shift away from Lightning to USB-C: In March it introduced a new MacBook laptop that uses a headphone jack and just one port, which happens to be USB-C. But with the new accessories supporting Lightning, it now seems less likely Apple will make such a change anytime soon, forcing many users to keep swapping different cords.


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