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Why does Apple need another connector?

Don't panic. Apple isn't replacing the Lightning connector, but it will mean more cable hassles and may mean more dongles.
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Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Contributor on

So, Apple is adopting another new connector, this time aimed at accessories. But why does it need yet another connector?

Must read: Best iPhone or iPad apps

The new connector is called UAC, short for Ultra Accessory Connector, and it will give accessory makers who sign up to Apple's MFi (Made for iPhone) program yet another connector to confuse and frustrate users.

UAC is not a new connector, but instead is Apple's branding for a connector that's already in use on Nikon digital cameras (where it is called the UC-E6) and some other accessories such as barcode scanners.

It's already so ubiquitous that you can pick up a six-foot cable from Monoprice for $1.55.

Why does Apple need yet another connector?

A Nikon UC-E6 cable from Monoprice that is compatible with the UAC port.

Monoprice

So why does Apple need to use yet another connector? What's wrong with USB-C or Lightning?

It comes down to two things.

  • First is size. The UAC port is thinner and about half the width of a USC-C or Lightning port, so it's better suited to smaller accessories such as headphones.
  • The other factor is that UAC relies on standard USB protocols, which means that apart from a different port and cable, there's no need for any design changes or authentication chips and such.

So, the bottom line is that if you purchase an accessory that makes use of UAC then you will have another cable to contend with, and you might find yourself having to buy new cables or mess about with dongles if you lose or misplace the cable.

Top accessories for your MacBook (2017 edition)

See also:

AirPods Review: 3 ways Apple can make them better:

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