Rumors are circulating that Apple is getting ready to revamp the MacBook Air, and that the new notebook will not only be smaller, but that it will get rid of the full-sized USB port, SD card slot, and even the MagSafe connector.
The unsubstantiated rumor surfaced on 9to5Mac and claims that Apple is going to hit the existing MacBook Air with a shrink ray and take it down from the current 13-inch form factor to the more petite 12-inch. And in order to accomplish this, the Cupertino tech giant has had to make a lot of changes. This includes shrinking the keyboard and making it edge-to-edge, thinning the trackpad, and, most controversially, getting rid of all the existing connectors, and replace them with a single connector.
Yes, you read that right. If the current rumor is true - and I do have to say that at this point that there is no evidence being offered to substantiate this rather bold claim - the next MacBook Air will feature a single port.
But is there a single port that can replace the USB ports, Thunderbolt port, and the MagSafe power connector? Yes, there is. It is the USB Type-C connector, and not only is this smaller and thinner than the standard USB ports found on systems, but it is also faster, features a convenient bi-directional connector (so no more having to fumble around to discover the orientation of the connector), and it can also deliver power.
So yes, Apple could replace a whole swath of ports, including the power port, with this single port.
But there are drawbacks. A USB Type-C connector means that you'll need a converter to use any existing USB gear (I've no doubt that Apple would offer you such a converter for $30), and a hub if you want to use more than one device (I'm certain Apple would offer one of these too, probably for around $80).
Another issue is that if you want to power the notebook and use the port, you'll probably have to use some adapter. Knowing how Apple works, this is likely to be an elegant solution, but if you have multiple devices, this is probably going to require a hub of some sorts.
Would Apple do this? Maybe. Apple is no stranger to being radical when it comes to the connector. It introduced the Thunderbolt, switched from MagSafe to MagSafe 2, and changed the iDevice line from using the 30-pin connector to the Lightning port. That said, Apple tends to have a thing for proprietary connectors, and a power system based around the USB Type-C connector is unlikely to be proprietary.
Apple is likely to unveil the new MacBook Air before mid-2015, so we'll know in a few months if there is anything to this rumor. If it turns out to be true - and right now I'm not fully convinced - then it will yet another example of Apple making more with less.