If you use more than a couple of Apple products, then you can’t have failed to notice how many cables and dongles you need these days.
Some things need a Lightning cable for charging (even desktop accessories such as trackpads and mice), some use USB-C, and MagSafe made a comeback on the Mac, iPhone, and Apple Watch (and it’s likely to come back to the MacBook Pro line later this year.
Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman hasn’t failed to notice this either, pondering whether Apple could streamline all this mess.
For example, take everything down to everything running on a combination of USB-C for the iPhone, iPads, Macs, and desktop accessories, and a unified MagSafe for everything wireless (currently it’s the Apple Watch that’s the oddity in that it needs a proprietary charger), and have a single MagSafe connector on all Macs.
Then throw in the inevitability of needing a dongle or dock for Macs, and it all starts to feel like a bit of a mess.
Is there a way out of this?
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Firstly, how did Apple get into this mess in the first place? A lot of Apple’s choices and decisions don’t make sense.
For example, Apple was shipping iPhones with Lightning-to-USB-A cables for long after Macs had all switched to USB-C. Why?
It made no sense for Mac keyboards, mice and trackpads to be powered using an iPhone cable. This still seems like a strange design choice to me.
But then, Apple is the company that put the charging port its mouse on the bottom, so it can’t be used while it’s charging, so maybe we know plenty about what’s wrong here.
It’s a culture of strange design choices, and they eventually snowball to a point where things seem very chaotic.
Could Apple simplify things?
Of course it could.
USB-C seems like the most sensible option for a default, but while Apple has dabbled with this port, it seems to be hesitant in going all-in. And with Apple now having a range of magnetic connectors for both wired and wireless transfer of power, I feat that we’re in for a shower of different connectors over the coming years.
If I had to put money on what’s coming next, my money would be on more confusion for owners of all things Apple.
Because Apple makes money from selling accessories.
A lot of money.
All those cables and dongles and chargers sold pulls in a lot of revenue.
And then there’s all the money Apple pulls in from licensing technologies like Lightning and MagSafe to third-party companies.
That’s another sweet money-spinner.
Moving to a more streamlined, easier-to-use system would ultimately hit Apple’s bottom line. So, we have this odd, convoluted mash of different technologies, most of which are proprietary and all designed to squeeze more cash from users.
And if Apple does at any point manage to simplify things, say with something like the ill-fated AirPower wireless charger, you can bet that the solution that simplifies all this confusion won’t be cheap.