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Iphone Networking Upgrades Hardware Apple

Reports Say Apple Is Shrinking Its Docking Connector With iPhone 5 427

jones_supa writes "Two sources have told Reuters that Apple's new iPhone will drop the classic wide dock connector used in the company's gadgets for the best part of a decade in favor of a smaller one. The refresh will be a 19-pin connector port at the bottom instead of the previous 30-pin port 'to make room for the earphone moving to the bottom.' That would mean the new phone would not connect with the myriad of accessories playing a part in the current ecosystem of iPods, iPads and iPhones, at least without an adapter. On the upside, a smaller connector will allow for more compact product designs. Some enterprising vendors in China have already begun offering cases for the new phone, complete with earphone socket on the bottom and a 'guarantee' that the dimensions are correct." Gizmodo writer Adrian Covert says it's for your own good.
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Reports Say Apple Is Shrinking Its Docking Connector With iPhone 5

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  • by Guspaz ( 556486 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @11:40AM (#40750433)

    The "proprietary charger resistor trick" was made part of the USB standard in 2007 (USB Battery Charging Specification), three years before the article you linked to purporting to have discovered "secret resistors" that enable Apple to "artificially restricts iPhone chargers"...

    Apple's no saint, but if you're going to call them out on something, maybe try to stick to stuff they actually did wrong instead of making stuff up. The headphone recess thing might be one, although I'd argue that that was just a dumb design decision rather than an attempt to introduce a proprietary standard; it was still a standard 3.5mm jack, just rendered mostly useless.

  • by GameboyRMH ( 1153867 ) <gameboyrmh@gmai l . c om> on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @11:41AM (#40750459) Journal

    Before micro-USB there was mini-USB, they're standard connectors that can be forwards and backwards-compatible with simple mechanical adapters. Miniature USB connectors on phones have a long history.

  • by bjackson1 ( 953136 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @11:45AM (#40750513)
    You realize that the dock connector is more than just a USB cable with a weird connector at the end, right? The new 19 pin connector would presumably do the functions of the current 30 pin dock connector, which allows full digital video and audio out, analog audio and video, and control data simultaneously over one connection. I don't believe that this is part of the USB standard.
  • by GameboyRMH ( 1153867 ) <gameboyrmh@gmai l . c om> on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @11:50AM (#40750601) Journal

    Gonna need a source on that. There are standards that use resistors on the data lines but not in Apple's configuration:

    http://blog.curioussystem.com/2010/08/the-dirty-truth-about-usb-device-charging/ [curioussystem.com]

  • by tlhIngan ( 30335 ) <slashdot@NoSpAM.worf.net> on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @12:08PM (#40750885)

    I'm sure MicroUSB and other industry-standard connectors weren't considered. For how many years now has Apple been the last holdout with proprietary connectors?

    Even if they did they'd still find a way to make it proprietary with something like the charger resistor trick or the headphone recess.

    Rumors have it that the port IS micro-USB compatible. As in, you can plug in a micro-USB cable into it and connect/charge via USB. This would make sense as Apple right now supplies an adapter for EU iDevices for micro USB. This would get rid of the adapter, but not the funtionality of the port.

    If you want the additional connectivity (line-in/out, component video, HDMI, etc) you need the other pins, which would be used for say, a connector adapter. (There are way too many 30-pin accessories out there).

    As for the resistors - they are a brilliant way to do USB charging - because USB chargers do NOT communicate how much power they can provide. If you plug in a USB charger, a device can't tell if it can pull more than 500mA (even then it shouldn't assume it can - USB spec calls for 100mA until you positively identify a charger or get enumerated and told you can draw 500mA). But the charger can provide 800mA, 1A, 2A or more, and you need a quick-and-cheap way of telling the host device that fact. The resistors do that (by pulling the D+/D- lines certain ways).

    FYI - the USB charger spec shorts D+ to D-, and special resistors inside the device detect that (usually through a special line state). But again, it doesn't tell you how much you can draw - a tablet might want 2A, but it can't tell for sure if you plugged it into a wimpy 500mA one. (We've blown a few during development - notably the cheapass chinese crap adapters with no protection).

    An even more proprietary way would be to include an enumeration chip that tells the device over USB what it can draw (which Apple does with its Macs to do "high-speed" charging - the ports negotiate with iDevices to provide I think 1A current).

    The USB spec is violated so often that you can make a rather useless USB host if you adhered to it, for example. The 100mA one is routinely violated (embedded devices with USB host often only provide 100mA). USB hard drives count on the fact most PC manufacturers are cheap and put only one overcurrent switch for a gang of ports (e.g., a 4 port might use a 2A overcurrent switch) so they can draw 1A+ when spinning up without tripping the switch (see this a lot).

    Or USB chargers that provide 500mA, and overheat/explode wen some device goes right ahead and tries to draw 1A.

  • by jo_ham ( 604554 ) <joham999@ g m a il.com> on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @12:17PM (#40751077)

    The current 30 pin has all sorts along with USB - composite video, stereo line out, firewire data and power (now unused), ipod accessory control, etc. It's much more than just a micro USB port, but it is overkill now that there's no need for the firewire pins, for example.

    The same sources that have said there will be a new port have also said that an adapter is also in the works.

  • by sglewis100 ( 916818 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @01:37PM (#40752419)

    Apple going through the trouble of abandoning their old proprietary connector and MAKING A NEW PROPRIETARY ONE instead of going to a standard one like every other phone has had for years sounds at least a bit nefarious to me.

    Is it possible that a standard micro or mini USB cable didn't do everything they wanted [cultofmac.com]?

  • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @01:53PM (#40752753) Journal
    The real issue was that Intel put USB controllers on south bridge chips. This meant that motherboard makers got USB almost for free - they just needed to put the sockets on the board and connect them to the chip. To support FireWire, they needed to add another chip and connect it to the south bridge via the PCI bus as well as to the socket. The south bridge already had traces going to the PS/2, serial and parallel ports, so adding USB did almost nothing to increase motherboard complexity - they just had to run a few extra traces alongside existing ones. Adding FireWire meant a lot of effort in board layout.
  • by jo_ham ( 604554 ) <joham999@ g m a il.com> on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @01:58PM (#40752817)

    ...and clearly it all converts to USB.

    No, it doesn't. When the USB cable is plugged in (the one that comes with the phone and has a USB port on one end and the 30 pin port on the other) only the USB data pins and the USB power pins - 4 out of the total 30 are connected.

    Actually, the ground pin is probably also connected to the shielding. Five pins.

    The other pins connect when other things are connected, like a docking port on a music system will have the power pins, the accessory control and the line out pins connected. The HDMI adapter will connect to other pins, the video adapter will connect to the line out pins and the video pins.

    The USB cable with the standard USB port on the end *absolutely does not* convert all those things down so that they work over USB. It connects the two data pins and the 5V power only.

  • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @02:01PM (#40752879) Journal
    The EU regulation has an loophole, which means that as long as Apple puts a dock to micro-USB adaptor in the box they comply. As to the dock vs micro-USB issue, most people seem to be missing the fact that the dock connector does a lot more than USB. It also contains audio line in and out, component and s-video, serial, USB, and FireWire (not in recent ones) [pinouts.ru]. USB is a step backwards. A modern replacement for the dock should ideally contain display port or HDMI video and a switchable line out / S/PDIF or similar. Personally, I'd love to see Thunderbolt ports on mobile devices.
  • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @02:06PM (#40752969)

    Only for charging and data transfer. Any device that uses any of the extra functions (and there are a LOT... any speaker system that has a dock connector, or car kit, for example) is definitely NOT USB on the other end.

  • by s.o.terica ( 155591 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @02:23PM (#40753255)

    I don't know of anyone advocating half a dozen ports. What I do see is people saying it'd be nice if they used micro-usb like everyone else instead of a proprietary connector.

    I think his point, however poorly made, was that if they did switch to micro-USB, there would have to be more ports to supplement the additional capabilities the dock connector is used for (line-level analog audio, analog and HDMI video, additional power options, etc). At the very minimum, there would have to be a second minijack connector to provide line-level audio, in a standardized location across all their devices so that it could still be placed in a dock, along with a separate stabilizing mechanism since otherwise you would have to rely on the minijack connector and micro-USB connector holding the device in place. This sounds like a less elegant solution by far. And is likely the reason that no other manufacturer has a docking standard that works across all of their devices.

  • by itsdapead ( 734413 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2012 @02:25PM (#40753303)

    I have yet to see anything truly innovative come out of Apple,

    Well, not if you define "innovation" as actually inventing a completely brand new idea from scratch, and don't give any credit to the hard part - selling it. "Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door" is an aphorism only exceeded in utter wrongness by "look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves".

    The story of Apple's life has been "they may not have invented (x) but they were one of the first to turn it into a desirable product and successfully market it..." where X includes the GUI and mouse, local area networking, the laser printer [wikipedia.org], PostScript [wikipedia.org] - and hence desktop publishing, full motion video on PC (Quicktime was at the cutting edge of this) - and hence nonlinear video editing... some of us were around when these things were taking off and people sure as hell weren't using IBM PCs for them (Amigas and Acorns maybe).

    And the original Mac is something of a design classic...

    Then you have the modern laptop - with the keyboard set back and a central pointing device in front, as debuted on the first Powerbooks. Maybe not the Manhattan project, but virtually every other laptop since has copied it. Pretty sure that the previous Mac "Portable", though deemed a flop, was the first portable to use an active-matrix (TFT) display.

    Using a RISC processor? RISC vs. CISC is almost irrelevant now (since modern CISC processors have assimilated the good bits of RISC design) but it used to be the Next Big Thing and Apple were the second to market with a RISC-based personal computer (Acorn were first by a long margin, but not really significant outside of the UK, although the ARM processor they developed didn't do badly - Apple played a big role in the later development of that, too). Then there's Digital Cameras [wikipedia.org] - again, not the first but one of the first viable consumer products.

    Of course, the Newton wasn't innovative at all because some guy at Xerox had sketched one on a beer mat 20 years before (and anyway, Steve Jobs planted the whole Newton thing when he was using a time machine to set up the great iPhone conspiracy).

    Then there's USB. Apple certainly didn't invent that, but before the iMac the only use for it was the slightly increased airflow from those two funny square sockets on the back of your PC that Windows 95 didn't really support. There was a reason why most of the first mass-market USB peripherals had translucent blue cases...

    So, what have Apple done for us this century? Well, every year in the 80s and 90s was going to be The Year of Unix on the Desktop. Apple finally did it with OS X (yes, there's Linux - which succeeded on servers, embedded devices an Android but has yet to get large scale adoption on the desktop). They managed to fairly seamlessly switch from PPC to Intel using emulation/recompilation (quite an achievement) and popularised Small Form Factor computers. We've had vastly improved trackpads on laptops (seriously - I always had to carry a mouse around until Apple introduced the new multitouch trackpads). Now we have an external PCIe bus (thunderbolt) which may or may not take off, and they've just doubled the linear resolution of their laptop display at a time when everybody else had decided that 1080p was enough.

    I won't mention the iPod/iPhone because everybody knows that they were invented by Samsung after being inspired by the "news pad" in the film 2001, and that Apple copied them and then used a time machine to go back and launch the iPhone at a time when Android phones looked like this [slashgear.com].

    So please suggest some other companies with anything like that track record. Microsoft/IBM? Well, turning the personal computer into a commodity was pretty damned significant (not so sure that it was progress), but apart from that...

Perfection is acheived only on the point of collapse. - C. N. Parkinson