We don’t often cover completely mobile devices on this site, but the recent kerfluffle over the new iPhone docking connector bears relevance. One of the greatest parts about buying into the whole Apple/iOS device scheme is not actually the devices themselves. These days, most users have a number of options for a perfectly suitable smartphone. I’d argue that rather than the devices, the real benefit is the ecosystem as a whole.
You want a case for your phone? You’ve got a million different options. You want an iPhone-powered alarm clock? We’ve got you covered. Car inputs? Those too. What about a speaker dock? Why, we’ve got speaker docks in spades.
It’s been a touchy subject, then, this new iOS connector that completely changes the equation when it comes to device and ecosystem compatibility. No new devices have hit the market yet that take advantage of Apple’s new system for charging and delivering data to your iPhone.
Apple’s solution to that problem, a 30-pin iOS adapter-to-Lightning port, is now shipping. That’s good news for everyone who wants to use their new phone with their old docks.
The bad news? It’s thirty dollars! And thirty dollars is a ridiculous price to pay for a simple passive adapter. If you want a cable on the end of that adapter, you can bump the price up to almost $40. It won’t give you quite the same functionality as the old ports did, either – if you rely on the ‘iPod Out’ standard to get music to your car stereo, for example, you can kiss that ability goodbye. Too, don’t think you’ll be able to cheap out with a low-cost overseas alternative; users are reporting that these cheap cables often don’t work as well – or at all – because they lack a chip that Apple embeds into every official cable.
You know what, though? Cables are the past. Hopefully, the fallout from a changeover like this will force more manufacturers to build wireless streaming solutions into their products – Wi-Fi radios are pretty cheap these days – then none of this will matter. Speaker dock? AirPlay that music to your stereo, or car audio system. Have an old system you’d like to use with the new device? Forget docks entirely and pick up an Airport Express. Leave cables for charging, and you’ll never have to worry about your accessory devices getting caught up in a standards change again.