Apple to open new possibilities for third-party Lightning accessories
Apple has been sitting on a gold mine for more than a decade since it launched the “Made for iPod” licensing program. Today, the “MFi” standard is all about iPhones and iPads, but ever since the launch of the lightning port with the iPhone 5, the acceptance of third party accessories that support it has been rather sluggish. We really can’t understand why Apple has decided to take its time with this, but things are about to change.
Apple’s yearly “MFi” briefing happened last week in Shenzhen, China, and the biggest news of the event was that Cupertino has just provided third-party accessory makers with a new Lightning receptacle for early 2015. We’ve already heard that Apple was planning to allow high quality audio through the Lightning port a couple of months ago, and we even see a product already launched supporting it, but there is actually a broader story with this new receptacle. In additional to being a more-compact receptacle than the current, one of the major changes is that third-party accessories will now be able to charge themselves with the same Lightning cable. For example, if you buy a Mophie power accessory, this product does charge your iPhone using a Lightning cable, but it can’t charge itself with Lightning, and instead requires third-party accessory makers to bundle microUSB cables. We also see this happening with third-party keyboards, among other products that provide lightning connectivity, but that can’t use it for self charging. This may not be a problem for many of you, but the idea of carrying an extra charger for a keyboard is a pain for most.
Other enhancements include the use of the Lightning port for game controllers, among other new accessories as well. We should learn more about this as new products begin to launch in early 2015.