Last week at its yearly briefing for accessory makers under its MFI licensing program, Apple announced new Lightning connectors and specifications for Lightning receptacles that will be available to OEMs for their accessories.
Apple had first introduced the Lighting connector with the iPhone 5 in 2012 and since then has included it in all , but accessory manufacturers have not been allowed to include ports for the connector on their products.
By releasing the specifications to licensed OEMs, the company will allow them to integrate the port in their future products. Using a Lightning connector will provide OEMs with a number of advantages, including an improved user experience as it will allow the iOS device as well as the accessory to be charged via a single cable. This will also lead to a reduction in manufacturing costs for developers.
The report from 9to5Mac also suggests that Apple is working on a new Lightning connector (C68) that is a “slimmed down, low profile version of the previous implementation that can be used in a wide range of accessories from docks to form fitting cases.” The new connector will be around the same size as the C48 connector with more features, including support for audio playback to supported headphones. The Cupertino based company has several variants of the Lightning connector with the C48 connector being the most widely one. It is also the only variant of the connector to be available to third-party OEMs.
Apple plans on shipping its new Lightning based connector and receptacle to its licensed OEMs from early 2015.[via 9to5Mac]