A last-minute research note by reputed Apple analyst and fortune teller Ming-Chi Kuo provides two key details about the new iPad Pro: it will allegedly feature Face ID and drop its proprietary Lightning port in favor of plain USB-C, the connectivity used in the latest MacBook and iMacs.
If true, this can signal a future without the fastidious Lightning — which is great news for consumers everywhere.
The first bit was expected. With the rumored greatly reduced bezels, Apple will not have space to include a home button in the new iPad Pro, just like it happened with the iPhone X and all the new iPhones — the biggest user experience change in a decade. And without a home button, you will need Face ID.
Kuo just confirmed that, according to him, people will use their faces to unlock their 2018 iPad Pros — and play with Animojis for the first five minutes after unwrapping their shiny new tablet.
The real bomb here, however, is the alleged elimination of Apple’s Lightning port in favor of USB-C. If true, this may herald a future without proprietary connections that is both inconvenient and expensive for all of us.
There is no reason for a proprietary port in your iPhone or iPad — except enormous profits.
The Lightning port was allegedly designed to provide with a convenient way to carry all the data and power that Apple needed, although other smartphones have used mini or micro-USB with the same purpose. Apple said that it couldn’t do the things they wanted in the space they needed to use, so it invented Lightning.
In reality, Apple used Lightning to further lock users into their ecosystem. The company charged a hefty premium for cables and accessories that were less than durable.
Apple has also charged third-party accessory manufacturers a “Made for iPhone” tax: any company wanting to sell cables for Apple devices has to go through a certification process. If they pass (looking at the market for Lightning cables, everyone seems to pass) they have to pay for and include a custom Apple microchip that tells your iPhone or iPad which cables are ok to use and reject the others.
Apple claims that the MFi program was made to guarantee the maximum quality of the components, despite the fact that its own cables and adapters have been criticized for failing.
As a result, lots of consumers have had to buy new cables at a high price when the cable included in the box stopped working. Add to this the inconvenience of having to deal with a world where many users don’t have Apple phones and couldn’t lend you a cable for a quick emergency charge.
But now, with USB-C, there are no excuses left. Any USB-C cable works just fine and this iPad Pro move proves it.
The move comes at the right time, too. This summer, the European Union started the process to force all manufacturers to standardize their devices’ ports using USB-C. The iPad Pro may be the first Apple device to comply with this rule, a law that is not coming soon enough.
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Jesus Diaz founded the new Sploid for Gawker Media after seven years working at Gizmodo, where he helmed the lost-in-a-bar iPhone 4 story and wrote old angry man rants, among other things. He's a creative director, screenwriter, and producer at The Magic Sauce, and currently writes for Fast Company and Tom's Guide.