What would you do with an iPad USB port?

What would you do with an iPad USB port?

Summary: A vague rumor surfaced on Friday from DigiTimes that the iPad 2 would have five new features. Four are predictable, but the fifth -- a USB port -- is out of left field.

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A vague rumor surfaced on Friday from DigiTimes that the iPad 2 would have five new features. Four are predictable, but the fifth -- a USB port -- is out of left field.

  1. video phone
  2. better mobility
  3. new display technology
  4. 3-axis gyroscopes
  5. USB port

The first four are pretty predictable, let's break them down:

  1. video phone - This is presumed to be FaceTime and requires at least a forward facing camera.
  2. better mobility - This probably refers to the iPad 2s rumored thinner and lighter design (conceivably to better compete with ereaders). This could mean anything from LiquidMetal to a "Reinforced Device Housing" made of carbon fiber.
  3. new display technology - Retina Display from the iPhone 4. (Any guesses on the resolution)
  4. 3-axis gyroscopes - Another trickle over feature from the iPhone 4.

But what about that fifth item, "USB port." Freal?

If true, this would be big news.

All 125+ million iOS devices worldwide use Apple's proprietary dock connector for charging and syncing giving Apple complete control over data syncing and the accessory market. It's an important part of Apple's dominance of portable media -- if you want to load something on an iPhone/iPad/iPad, that's fine. As long as it uses Apple codes and you load it via iTunes and a dock cable.

MacRumors notes that this isn't the first time we've heard the iPad-with-a-USB-port rumor:

Back in September, Goldman Sachs analysts described the next iPad as a lighter/thinner and with a mini USB connector.

Apple makes a lot of profit selling NAND Flash memory, specifically in its upgraded 32 and 64GB devices. A USB port could conceivably allow you to attach a flash drive or cheap external hard drive and skip on the pricier 32 and 64GB models (which cost and extra $100 and $200 respectively from Apple) and get the 16GB iPad and a cheapo flash drive.

MacRumors also notes that the USB port rumor may stem from recent regulations passed in Europe requiring the adoption of a universal USB charging standard (read: MicroUSB) amongst mobile phone manufacturers.

What would you do with an iPad USB port?

Update: CNET Australia reports that in addition to the previous iPad 2 rumors, a second Chinese source tosses the 7-inch iPad rumor back into the fray:

A Chinese paper, the Economic Daily News, is reporting that production has started on 7-inch iPads due for release in Q1 2011. The paper also details some of the new features to expect in the iPad successor, including front and rear facing cameras, and a USB port for connecting external devices.

image: CBSi

Topics: Apple, Hardware, iPad, Mobility, Processors

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73 comments
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  • Maybe it will use MicroUSB

    It was actually China that first mandated the use of MicroUSB as the standard for charging mobile phones.<br><br>Europe later followed, also mandating MicroUSB.<br><br>I'd imagine that Apple would use either Mini or MicroUSB, rather than the full-sized USB.
    Vbitrate
    • If Apple adds a USB port...

      ... oh wait, they already had a full-sized USB port with the camera connection kit. SD card reader too. So you have to use a dongle; at least Apple gives you a standardized way to access audio, video, usb, and serial data connectivity on their devices (and serial terminal adapters are coming to iOS devices near you...)

      If Apple adds anything, it's going to be a micro and/or mini USB to Dock charging connector as standard equipment in the box. Even then, I doubt it as the iPod/iPhone/iPad chargers have a USB port on the wall wart/line lump, which enables those chargers to be used with other cellphones, non-Windows tablets, and other devices that can charge on USB.
      nix_hed
      • RE: What would you do with an iPad USB port?

        @nix_hed adds, gives !-> they, their
        ​
  • Current USB port - Camera Connection Kit

    Maybe a new built in USB port will do the exact same things as the current "Camera Connection Kit" USB port does. Officially it supports camera connections for moving photos, but it also does keyboards, headphones, headsets, microphones and others.

    Plus it would also probably support charging.
    DeadParrot
  • What would I do?

    I think we are asking the wrong question here. What you can do with a USB port is only limited by the number of available devices and there are millions of them.

    The question we should be asking is "Why wasn't it included from the start as standard?", and its the reason why I stuck to my netbook costing 10% the price of the iPad with 20x the functionality, and 4 USB ports.

    USB is not some new fangled technology that Mr Jobs had to worry about. Its not the "Flash" of connectivity. Its a mature, widely used and widely supported means of connecting devices. Its almost criminal that the iPad never had at least one USB port.
    garethmcc
    • Agreed

      Having no USB ports is like PC's not having a DVD drive. Apple needs to get over itself and open up more. Apple proprietary, this and Apple proprietary that is one reason I don't own an iOS device.
      The one and only, Cylon Centurion
      • Even if they did...

        ...@Cylon Centurion 0005, you still wouldn't own one anyway. Especially if your employers found out.

        lol... :D
        ahh so
    • RE: What would you do with an iPad USB port?

      @garethmcc Mr. Jobs was the first to introduce personal computes with USB port so I suspect he understands their impact. The bubblegum iMacs were the first mass marketed PC with USB and it was ridiculed for using that technology.
      dheady@...
      • RE: What would you do with an iPad USB port?

        @dheady@...
        Check your facts. IBM was one of the devolpers of usb
        rparker009
      • RE: What would you do with an iPad USB port?

        @rparker009 Check your facts. IBM may have part of the development group (along with a host of other tech companies, most of which no longer exist as independent entities), but USB showed up on consumer computers only with Apple's iMac in 1998. I for one did not see any PCs with USB built-in until 1999, when Microsoft added support for it in Windows 98. Probably part of the reason was that third party drivers for Win95 and before were usually buggy and not very useful.
        ssaha
      • RE: What would you do with an iPad USB port?

        @dheady@...
        Not sure where you guys got your facts from but I have a Windows 95 machine in my closet that I bought in 97 that has 2 usb ports on it, and I didn't have any problems with them.
        timtarver@...
    • It's about control of the ecosystem ...

      @garethmcc ... and it is the reason why Apple is more of a threat to competition than Microsoft ever was. Microsoft having been declared a monopolist means they could never get away with such a move to a proprietary connector.
      M Wagner
      • RE: What would you do with an iPad USB port?

        @mwagner@... Oh, crap! Just use something else! It's only a monopoly if you don't have reasonable alternatives. Note that Apple deliberately stays up-market, so that they can't HONESTLY be accused of denying you choice. you're free to use clunky, buggy, wormy, ugly geek's delights. Those who can afford it will pay up for elegance, ease of use, and whatever other perceived values make their products more akin to an Acura or BMW 3-series than a Camry. Choice; it's a beautiful thing. For everybody, including even Steve Jobs.
        jack_sprat2
      • RE: What would you do with an iPad USB port?

        @mwagner@... "Microsoft having been declared a monopolist means they could never get away with such a move to a proprietary connector.

        That would be clever, except that Microsoft doesnt create computers, or computer USB ports, or computer connectors of any kind.
        lelandhendrix@...
    • RE: What would you do with an iPad USB port?

      @garethmcc
      Cool. So, um, where do I find these $59 netbooks?
      Scott Kitts
      • RE: What would you do with an iPad USB port?

        @Scott Kitts<br><br>Actually, $50 netbooks do exist, but they run WinCE.
        DeusXMachina
    • RE: What would you do with an iPad USB port?

      @garethmcc " I stuck to my netbook costing 10% the price of the iPad". Now let's see, iPad 700$, netbook (@10% of iPad) 70$. Please tell me where you bought it!
      minardi
    • RE: What would you do with an iPad USB port?

      @garethmcc Unless it was used and beat up, where did you get a netbook for $50 which is what 10% of the iPad is?
      non-biased
  • RE: What would you do with an iPad USB port?

    In a quick search the closest I came to finding a mini-USB thumb drive was an adaptor that took a standard USB port down to a mini male connector. I suspect if Jobs does include a mini USB port on the new iPads there will be a flurry of thumb drives come out with the proper connector. That said, I also suspect Apple could have it so the iPad wouldn't recognize the extra memory much as they used to restrict USB hard drives from being boot drives and, I suspect, for exactly the same reasons. Keep in mind that Apple is a consumer electronics company NOT a geek's computer company. If you want to wield a soldering iron or customize your hardware buy a Dell. Apple simply isn't interested in that market.
    dheady@...
    • RE: What would you do with an iPad USB port?

      @dheady@... Of course, you could always boot a Mac from a firewire drive rather than the excruciatingly slow USB 1.1, but USB 2.0 made that less problematic. Thus Intel-based Macs have been able to boot from USB since the first MacBooks came out. I still prefer to boot my old MacBook (if I have to) from the firewire port on my external HD rather than its USB port, but I can do either now.
      ssaha