This week, the USB 3.0 Promoter Group announced that for the new version of USB, called USB 3.1, it will have a new connector that is about the size of a Micro USB connector that plugs into most smartphones and other portable gadgets these days. Furthermore, this new connector will be flappable: It can be turned either way and still connect.
Beyond the new connector type, the specifications for USB 3.1 include a 10-Gb-per-second data speed, twice that of USB 3. It will also be upgraded for greater power transfer, allowing more energy-hungry gadgets to run via USB without a power plug.
The new USB 3.1 specification comes at a time when gadgets are becoming more powerful. Higher data speeds help with larger HD videos and photos, increased power transfer helps with charging mobile gadgets, and having the connector be flippable helps with user frustration.
USB 3.1 also designed to measure up to competitors. Apple's Lightning connector has been flippable since its release in September 2012 with the iPhone 5. Intel's Thunderbolt connection runs at 10 Gbps and the upcoming Thunderbolt 2 will support up to 20 Gbps, necessary for streaming 4K video to monitors, according to Intel. Devices supporting Thunderbolt 2 have just started to be released, with the first ones launched in October.
The specifications of the USB 3.1 are expected to be finalized by Summer 2014.