When Apple unveiled its new iPhone last week, it got some mixed reviews. But one of the biggest areas of concern for many Apple users was the change from the 30-pin connector to the new 8-pin Lightning adapter.
A constant in iPods, iPhones and iPads since 2003, the old style of connector has its share of positives, negatives and mysteries that we're not going to fully understand until the new style connector hits the shelves later this week.
Why you'll love Lightning
For starters, shrinking down from 30-pin to 8-pin means that Apple can shrink all of its current and future iProducts that much more. It's double-sided, meaning you can't plug it in the wrong way (why it always takes me three attempts to plug in a microUSB cord, I'll never know). The smaller size should also mean that it's easier to plug in and line up on the first try.
Apple says that the new Lightning connector will also be more durable, which hopefully means the cords you buy will have a longer life than their 30-pin predecessors. And the move from 30-pin to 8 also means the move to an all-digital signal.
With this new connection being 80 per cent smaller, Lightning is paving the way for Apple to make even thinner versions of the iPhone and iPods in the future.
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Why you'll hate Lightning
While third-party manufacturers coming out with all new Lightning-compatible products would love for you to shell out for a new car adapter and speaker system, Apple has tried to lessen the blow of transitioning to the new system by offering an additional adapter for the new Lightning connection. Unfortunately, you'll be paying a premium for the privilege of being able to still use your older products: the basic 30-pin to Lightning adapter will run you $35 CAD. And if you're looking for an adapter with a short cord to give you a little distance, that'll cost you $45 CAD.
Even if you get that adapter, though, it appears that it won't be able to replicate the 30-pin experience exactly. BGR found information on Apple's online store explicitly saying that Video output will not be supported through the 30-pin to Lightning adapter.
It also won't support the iPod Out protocol, Forbes writes, which might be a big issue if you own one of the speaker sets that uses it to control the device though the iPod or iPhone's audio controls. And it looks like finding out which products are affected by this will take some trial and error.
And as if telling everyone "just try it first, you'll like it!" Apple isn't going to be shipping either the regular or corded adapters until October, meaning early-adopting iPhone and iPod users will just have to tough it out for a couple of weeks.
These issues will only affect you if you're still holding on to your old accessories. Generally speaking, the benefits outweigh the downsides, especially for people who are planning on investing in some new accessories, anyway.
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What you and I don't know yet about Lightning
Despite knowing all that we do, there are still a few unanswered questions around the new Lightning connection. For starters, despite its moniker, there's no indication that the new connection will actually be any faster than the 30-pin connector. It should be pretty easy to tell once the device starts shipping on Friday, but until then, we'll just have to wonder.
Another question plaguing me and those I've spoken with is how the new connector will work in standing the iPhone or iPod up in a dock. Sure, most speakers now take advantage of AirPlay or Bluetooth technology, but for those of us who like the convenience of sitting our Apple product on a clock radio overnight to charge, this could prove to be a significant issue. The 30-pin connector was sturdy enough to support the iPod, but even with the slim-down of the products, I'm not sure the 8-pin connector will be able to do it without some serious redesign to the accessories.
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What do you think, Right Click readers? Is the new 8-pin Lightning connection an improvement?