Apple to unveil next generation iPhone on September 12.

“iMore has heard that Apple is planning to debut the new iPhone at a special event on Wednesday, September 12, 2012, with the release date to follow 9 days later on Friday, September 21,” Rene Ritchie reports for iMore. “This information comes from sources who have proven accurate in the past.”
“The iPad mini will be announced at the same September 12 event, as will the new iPod nano,” Ritchie reports. “We haven’t heard a release date for the iPad mini yet, but it could be the same as the iPhone 5. It seems likely the new iPod touch will make an appearance on September 12 as well, though we haven’t heard any specific information about that yet either.”

Ritchie reports, “Unlike last year, when some 16 months separated the iPhone 4S and iPhone 4, a September 21 schedule would put the iPhone 5 launch at just over 11 months after the iPhone 4S.”

“Apple Inc. is preparing to introduce the next version of the iPhone on Sept. 12 in what will be a design overhaul of its top-selling product, according to two people with knowledge of the company’s plans,” Adam Satariano reports for Bloomberg. “The planned September debut was reported earlier by iMore, a technology news website.”
Read more in the full article here.

John Paczkowski reports for AllThingsD, “iMore was first to report that the company has scheduled a special event for September 12, and now we’ve confirmed it as well. Sources tell AllThingsD that Apple is currently planning an event for the week of September 9th, with Wednesday being the date on which it will likely be held. And while we haven’t yet confirmed the event’s focus, history suggests it will indeed be the new iPhone.”

Read more in the full article here.

Poornima Gupta reports for Reuters, “Apple Inc. is gearing up to unveil a new product at a major September 12 event, a source familiar with the plan said, presaging the long-awaited launch of the redesigned iPhone.”

Read more in the full article here.

Dante D’Orazio reports for The Verge, “It looks like we’ll be seeing what Apple has up its sleeves come Wednesday, September 12th. Our own sources familiar with the matter have confirmed that date.”

Read more in the full article here.

Even Nick Wingfiled reports for the lately rather late New York Times tabloid, “Apple will hold an event for the new device on Sept. 12, according to a person with knowledge of its plans who didn’t want to be identified.”

Read more in the full article here.

But, all of it means pretty much diddly squat until The Bearded One hath spoken and spoken he hath: “Yep,” Jim Dalrymple reports for The Loop.

So, there you have it, written in stone, mark your Calendars, bet the house, and take it to the bank: Apple’s next-gen iPhone will be reveled on September 12th with the first wave release happening on September 21st!

Advertisements

Apple’s OS X Mountain Lion offers compelling features for small businesses.

“Apple’s latest OS, Mountain Lion, offers small businesses several features to boost productivity and social networking,” Nathan Eddy reports for eWeek.
“With the release of OS X Mountain Lion, Apple’s latest version of their OS, there are a host of updated features that can serve midmarket companies well,” Eddy reports. “Chief among these are productivity enhancements to the Notification Center, which streamlines the presentation of notifications and provides access to alerts from Mail, Calendar, Messages, Reminders, system updates and third-party apps, as well as iCloud integration, for the setup of those applications, in addition to keeping everything, including iWork documents, up-to-date across all a company’s devices, including the iPad.”

Eddy reports, “With IT departments growing increasingly concerned about malware disrupting (or shutting down) the network, Apple’s new Gatekeeper platform, which makes downloading software from the Internet safer, could be of interest to small businesses with limited IT resources. On the communications front, Apple’s all-new Messages app, which replaces iChat and brings iMessage to the Mac, allows users to send messages to anyone with an iPhone, iPad, iPod touch or another Mac, a boon for companies that are increasingly reliant on instant collaboration and messaging to run their operations.”

Article from: Mac Daily News

Placing a dollar amount on Apple’s new OS X Mountain Lion

A new version of Windows is a big, big deal. Big changes, big price, big installation.

The Mountain Lion version of the OS X software for the Mac. It promises more than 200 new features for $20, many of them intended to help an Apple owner’s home computer, iPad and iPhone work together more smoothly.
Apple takes a different approach with its OS X software for the Mac. It intends to offer a modest new version every year. Installation is a 15-minute, one-click operation, and the price is piddling. For OS X 10.8, Mountain Lion, which came out Wednesday, Apple wants $20 — and you can install one copy on as many Macs as you have, without having to type in serial numbers or deal with copy protection hurdles.

If you’re a Mac owner, then, here’s the question: Is Mountain Lion worth $20? (A note: I have written a how-to manual to Mountain Lion for an independent publisher; it was neither commissioned by nor written in cooperation with Apple.)

There’s only one precise way to answer that, of course: assign a dollar value to each new feature.

Now, Apple claims “over 200 new features.” But some of them are tiny tweaks (Safari checks for software updates every day! Ooh!) or techie-only treats (“Xsan, the high-performance cluster file system”). Fifteen are improvements for Chinese customers, which is great for Apple’s world-domination plans but irrelevant to non-Chinese speakers.

So how many are real steps forward?

Mountain Lion continues to put velvet handcuffs on people who own iPhones, iPads and other Macs. For example, three iPhone/iPad apps are now on the Mac, too: Notes (a yellow pad, now with formatting and graphics), Reminders (a to-do list); and Game Center (lets you play against people on their Macs, iPhones and iPads, although few compatible games exist yet).

All of these sync with other Apple machines wirelessly, courtesy of Apple’s free, increasingly sophisticated iCloud service. The new apps join Mail, Calendar (formerly called iCal) and Contacts (formerly Address Book), which already sync with your iGadgets. Change a phone number on your phone, and it’s instantly updated on your tablet and computer; set up a reminder on your Mac, and your phone will chirp at the appointed time or even place.

It’s all useful and a bit magical — if you own more than one Apple device. Clearly, the company wants to keep you a happy prisoner inside its beautiful walled garden.

So what’s the value for these new syncing apps? Well, if phone apps cost $1 or $2, and computer shareware $20 or $30, then these new apps are probably worth about $7.

The new Notification Center is also modeled on an iPhone/iPad feature. It’s a dark gray panel that slides onto the screen when you drag two fingers onto your trackpad (or click a menu-bar button). Here are all the nags, messages and alerts that your programs have issued, consolidated into one tidy, customizable list: today’s appointments, incoming messages, software updates, Twitter updates and so on.

They tie into Mountain Lion’s new alert system, in which each incoming alert bubble slides quietly into the corner of your screen. It’s like a butler who tiptoes into your room with lunch, sees that you’re busy, and sets the tray down on the side table before quietly withdrawing.

But being bombarded with bubbles would be a big bummer. So the Mail app’s new V.I.P. feature lets you designate certain people whose messages you never want to miss — your spouse, your boss, the cable guy. You can set it up so that alert bubbles appear only when those people write. That’s so smart. Notification Center: easily worth $3.50.

Dictation has come to the Mac, too. When you double-tap the Fn button on your keyboard, you can speak to type.

It’s exactly the same recognition technology as the iPhone’s. So it requires no voice training and no special microphone, but it requires an Internet connection. And the accuracy is not quite what you see in the Martin Scorsese Apple commercials for Siri. Still, dictation fast and useful, to the tune of $5.75.

The new Share button is a keeper, too. It pops up everywhere — in shortcut menus, window edges, programs like Safari and Preview, and so on.

Its pop-up menu lets you transmit whatever you’re looking at: a photo, document, link, video, file. You can post something to Twitter, send it as an e-mail or text message, post a photo or video to Flickr or Vimeo, send a file wirelessly to another Mac and so on. All without having to open a special app or load a certain Web page. (In a free update this fall, Facebook will appear in the Share menu, too.)

This Share menu is a clever step-saver that you’ll use often. It’s easily worth $10.

Maybe the most routine-changing enhancement is Power Nap, a feature for Apple’s latest hard-driveless laptops. It lets the laptop update Internet data even while it’s closed and asleep.

Once an hour, it wakes itself — without activating any fans or lights — long enough to check for mail, download updates, run backups. When you wake the laptop later, you’ll be delighted to find that it’s completely up to date, with new e-mail waiting and all of your iCloud programs (Notes, Reminders, Calendar and so on) freshly synced.

Apple says that the battery hit is very slight. But if you’re concerned, you can tell Power Nap not to kick in except when the laptop is plugged in. Awesome. Worth $11.

Messages, the former iChat chat program, has been enhanced to handle iMessages, which are basically Internet-borne text messages that cost you nothing. Whenever you converse with fellow iCloud members — whether they’re on Macs, iPhones or iPads — the conversation appears simultaneously on all of your gadgets (and theirs). Start a chat on your phone when you’re out and about, and you’ll find its transcript in progress in Messages on your Mac. It’s freaky, somewhat confusing, but worth $3.35.

AirPlay mirroring requires an Apple TV ($100), but lets you perform a real miracle: With one click, you can send whatever is on your Mac’s screen — sound and picture — to your TV. Wirelessly.

AirPlay, already on iPhones and iPads, is even more useful on the Mac. You can send photo slide shows to the big screen. Or present lessons to a class. Or play online videos, including services like Hulu that aren’t available on the Apple TV alone.

And for boardroom PowerPoint pitches, you can carry the tiny Apple TV instead of a $1,500 projector. A great feature, worth $12.87 — probably more to frequent PowerPointers.

Not everything is a step forward, however. Apple has tried to refine last-year’s baffling AutoSave feature. It has restored the “Save As” and “Revert to Save” functions; alas, the result is almost more confusing than before. Worse, only a few programs incorporate this system — so you’re stuck with having to learn two ways to save files. Subtract $3.25.

Apple’s continued push to bring multitouch gestures from the iPad to the Mac’s trackpad isn’t wholly convincing, either. You swipe upward with three fingers to open the Mission Control app, spread four fingers to view the desktop, swipe sideways with four fingers to move between full-screen apps … you’re going to remember all this? I’m deducting $1.77 for that well-intentioned silliness.

Keep in mind, too, that Mountain Lion is available exclusively as a download. This time, Apple isn’t even selling the software on a USB stick as a fallback. That’s a big “tough rocks” to people who don’t have high-speed Internet (yes, they still exist). Subtract $1.20.

Finally, I found the usual assortment of minor first-release bugs. Apple confirmed them and says they’ll be exterminated shortly. That’s a 35-cent penalty.

So by my highly scientific accounting, Mountain Lion costs $20 but nets $46.90 worth of enhancements. And that’s not even counting the other 170 features: the Preview app (now lets you fill in checkboxes and blanks in PDF forms), Gatekeeper (blocks evil software), new screen saver slide shows, the unified address bar/search bar in Safari, the scroll bars that fatten up as your cursor approaches, and so on.

Over all, then, Mountain Lion is a gentle, thoughtful upgrade. All 200 new features? No, not really. But 10 that you’ll use every day? For $20?

Article from: New York Times

Apple releases it’s next operating system, OS X Mountain Lion (10.8)

Apple today announced that OS X Mountain Lion, the ninth major release of the world’s most advanced desktop operating system, is available as a download from the Mac App Store. With more than 200 innovative new features, Mountain Lion includes iCloud integration, the all new Messages app, Notification Center, system-wide Sharing, Facebook integration*, Dictation, AirPlay Mirroring and Game Center. Mountain Lion is available as an upgrade from Lion or Snow Leopard for only US$19.99.
“People are going to love the new features in Mountain Lion and how easy it is to download and install from the Mac App Store,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing, in the press release. “With iCloud integration, Mountain Lion is even easier to set up, and your important information stays up to date across all your devices so you can keep editing documents, taking notes, creating reminders, and continue conversations whether you started on a Mac, iPhone or iPad.”

With more than 200 innovative new features, Mountain Lion includes:
• iCloud integration, for easy set up of your Mail, Contacts, Calendar, Messages, Reminders and Notes, and keeping everything, including iWork documents, up to date across all your devices
• the all new Messages app, which replaces iChat® and brings iMessage™ to the Mac, so you can send messages to anyone with an iPhone, iPad, iPod touch® or another Mac
• Notification Center, which streamlines the presentation of notifications and provides easy access to alerts from Mail, Calendar, Messages, Reminders, system updates and third party apps
• system-wide Sharing, to make it easy to share links, photos, videos and other files quickly without having to switch to another app, and you just need to sign in once to use third-party services like Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and Vimeo
• Facebook integration, so you can post photos, links and comments with locations right from your apps, automatically add your Facebook friends to your Contacts, and even update your • Facebook status from within Notification Center
• Dictation, which allows you to dictate text anywhere you can type, whether you’re using an app from Apple or a third party developer
• AirPlay Mirroring, an easy way to wirelessly send an up-to-1080p secure stream of what’s on your Mac to an HDTV using Apple TV®, or send audio to a receiver or speakers that use AirPlay
• Game Center, which brings the popular social gaming network from iOS to the Mac so you can enjoy live, multiplayer games with friends whether they’re on a Mac, iPhone, iPad or iPod touch.

Additional features in Mountain Lion include the revolutionary new Gatekeeper, which makes downloading software from the Internet safer; Power Nap, which automatically updates your apps and system while your Mac is asleep; and a faster Safari® browser. New features for China include significantly improved text input, a new Chinese Dictionary, easy setup with popular email providers, Baidu search in Safari, and built-in sharing to Sina Weibo and popular video websites Youku and Tudou.

Pricing & Availability
OS X Mountain Lion is available from the Mac App Store for US$19.99. Mountain Lion requires Lion or Snow Leopard (OS X v10.6.8 or later), 2GB of memory and 8GB of available space. For a complete list of system requirements and compatible systems, visit: apple.com/osx/specs. OS X Server requires Mountain Lion and is available from the Mac App Store for $19.99. The OS X Mountain Lion Up-to-Date upgrade is available at no additional charge from the Mac App Store to all customers who purchased a qualifying new Mac system from Apple or an Apple Authorized Reseller on or after June 11, 2012.

*Facebook integration will be available in an upcoming software update to Mountain Lion.

Source: Apple Inc.

Laptops in Lecture?

There is a nice post by Stephanie Chasteen over at The Active Class about students being distracted by laptops (and other technology) while in the classroom. Stehpanie suggests a solution of a social contract for the class. In this contract, the students can define appropriate and inappropriate behaviors.

I think this post brings up some very good discussion points.

Are Students Distracted in Class?

This shouldn’t even be a question. If you have been in a large “lecture” class, you should know that there are students in there that aren’t engaged. It isn’t hard to spot them. For me, this is even in a class that isn’t a straight “lecture” (but it is large). Instead of lecture, my large Physical Science class shows the students video experiments and then asks them multiple choice questions. The students discuss the experiments and their answers before voting with a student response system (using Learning Physical Science).

Yes, they are distracted. I don’t even understand why some of these students come to class. They surf on their phones or iPads or laptops. I am pretty sure some of them have even been watching movies or at least youtube or something. Why come to class if you aren’t going to really be there? That is my question. I even tell them that. There are no grading points for attendance or anything, so I just don’t get it.

I don’t stop students from doing stupid things in class as long as it doesn’t seem like they are bothering other students. Honestly, wouldn’t they be more comfortable watching movies on a nice soft couch instead these hard lecture desks? I have this suspicion that when I say attendance doesn’t count towards their grade, they think I am lying. They think that if they come all the time (or at least sign the attendance sheet all the time), I will at least give them a D or something. Or maybe they are afraid that if there aren’t many students on a particular day, I will hand out bonuses like that time Oprah gave everyone in the audience a car. It could happen, right? It’s not going to happen.

In regards to computers in class, it is obviously going to become more of a problem, not less. More and more students are using ebooks instead of paper-based books (and sometimes, they don’t even have a choice). There is a push to use technology (like tablets) in class because it shows progress (even if they tablets are used for silly things). Students have more and more access to their own technology – phones, google glasses…

Should I Stop Them?

This is the real question. If they are doing something destructive to their own learning, should I let them or stop them? One one hand, they are adults, right? They don’t HAVE to pass or even take this class. It is their decision to be in college and get a degree. Also, if I force them to pay attention, when will they learn how to make themselves pay attention?

On the other hand, perhaps it is my responsibility to force them to do what is right. Perhaps it is my responsibility to teach them with force (not THE FORCE). At some younger age, I guess students have to be forced to do things the right way. Also, at some point in the future, people have to be responsible for their own actions. So, where does a college level class go? I have always made the assumption that at some point before my class the students have crossed the line going from being forced to being an adult.

I like to consider my classes like a green vegetable. Green vegetables are great for your health. When kids are young, I make them eat their vegetables. If I left my kids alone to responsible for their own eating, I don’t know what they would eat (I am not sure I want to know).

Rules Without Consequences

Perhaps my best compromise is to make rules. I do this all the time. There is a rule that you have to come to class. There is also a rule that you have to do the homework (it’s says so in the syllabus). So, what happens if a student doesn’t come to class or doesn’t do the homework? Do they get a grade penalty? No, they perhaps won’t learn the material. This could lead to a low score on the exam – but the low score isn’t directly due to their lack of homework or attendance.

This is where I hear many faculty say something like “how can you expect them to come to class if you don’t show them how important it is with a grade”. I get what they are saying, but a grade should be a reflection of what they understand – not a reflection of their obedience. What if we applied the same idea to basketball? Players will do much better in a game if they practice more. What if I was a coach and gave the basketball players points towards a real game for practicing their free throw shots? This is essentially what a grade for homework or attendance does.

Next semester, I think I will try Stephanie’s advice. I am going to let the students themselves come up with the “rules”. If they feel like they have ownership over the rules, perhaps they will cary more weight.

Via: wired.com

Forrest Gump’s Investment In Apple Would Be Worth $7 Billion Today

Forrest Gump’s Investment In Apple Would Be Worth $7 Billion Today

Gump’s investment in Apple would make him a billionaire today.

In the 1994 Oscar-winning movie Forrest Gump, there’s a short scene in which Tom Hanks’s character opens a letter of thanks from Apple after his former military colleague and business partner Lieutenant Dan invested some of the profits from the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company in “some kind of fruit company.”

If Gump was real and if he was still clinging on to his investment today, he could have a staggering 12 million shares in the Cupertino company, worth around $7 billion.

FancyDressCostumes.co.uk decided it would be fun to calculate what that investment in Apple would be worth today, “as a way of illustrating Apple’s extra-ordinary growth.”

How much of the shrimping profits Dan invested exactly isn’t mentioned in the movie, so a notional amount of $100,000 is used for this. Given the success of the Bubba Gump Shrimping Company, that’s certainly a plausible figure, and it would have given the pair around a 3% stake in Apple at the time (1970s).

By 1980, that stake roughly translated into 1,476,460 shares, which would have been worth $43 million at the end of the stock’s first day of trading. When the Forrest Gump novel made its debut in 1986, that figure would have reached $46 million, and would have ballooned again to $91.5 million by the time the film was released in 1994.

That sounds like an incredible sum of money, but it’s hardly anything when you consider what Gump’s shares would be worth today. According to Fancy Dress Costumes:

After accounting for two more stock splits in 2000 and 2005, Forrest & Lieutenant Dan’s holding now stands at 11,811,680 shares. As of today, 2nd July 2012, Apple is trading at $591. That means their initial investment of $100,000 back in 1978 is now worth… $6,980,702,880.

Nearly $7 billion! If only we all had a friend like Lieutenant Dan.

Article from : Cult of Mac

The Future Of Apple’s Dock Connector [Feature]

The Future Of Apple’s Dock Connector [Feature]

If this was good enough for the iPod shuffle, why isn’t it good enough for the iPhone 5?

In 2006, Apple released an iPod that, to this day, is unique amongst all of the iPods it sells in that it didn’t come with a standard Dock Connector: the iPod shuffle.

In order to save space in a design that was built from the ground up to be as tiny as possible, Apple jettisoned the traditional 30-Pin Dock Connector in the second-gen shuffle in favor of a clever implementation of USB that plugged in right through the 3.5mm audio jack.

For the last six years, Apple has favored this implementation of USB syncing and charging in its line of iPod shuffles, even as every other model of iPhone, iPod or iPad shipped with a much bulkier 30-Pin Apple Dock Connector.

As rumors have heated up that Apple will abandon the 30-Pin Dock Connector in the next iPhone fora slimmer 19-Pin Connector, a natural question to ask is, “why?” If Apple just wants to save space in the next iPhone, why not just adopt the time-tested iPod shuffle’s approach, which is about the most efficient and elegant implementation of USB ever designed?

The answer’s simple: while the iPod shuffle’s USB design is ingenious at syncing and charging, it’s really crappy at everything else that the 30-Pin Dock Connector is designed to do. But what does the 30-Pin Dock Connector do, why doesn’t Apple just use USB like most of its competitors, and why is 19-Pin — not 30 — the way to go?

A Matter Of Pins

The Future Of Apple’s Dock Connector [Feature]

If you pull a standard USB cable out of your Mac and take a look at the plug end of the connector, what you’re going to see are four little, gold pins.

Now look at the fat end of your Apple dock connector cable. They may be a lot smaller, but in Apple’s connector, there are thirty pins.

Those pins are at the heart of this matter. Why has Apple — a company that embraces simplicity of design to the point of mania; a company that is always trying to make its products as slim and light as possible — chosen to design a Dock Connector that is seven-and-a-half times bulkier and more complicated than USB? Why not just switch to micro USB like the rest of the smartphone industry?

That’s a good question, but Apple’s Dock Connector does a lot more than USB does. Here’s why.

USB vs. Apple

Let’s look again at the USB connector plug and its four main pins.

The Future Of Apple’s Dock Connector [Feature]

How can USB get away with just 4 pins when Apple uses 30?

You might suspect that each of these pins has a unique purpose, and you’re right.

In every USB plug — whether micro USB, mini USB or just plain fat USB — there are four pins. The first pin provides power to a connected device. The second pin is data out. The third pin is data in. And the fourth pin is ground, which is a necessary component for any electrical device.

The Future Of Apple’s Dock Connector [Feature]

In the iPod shuffle, the tips and rings on a 3.5mm headphone plug do double duty as the four standard USB pins.

Now here’s an interesting fact: Apple’s iPod shuffle line actually only uses these four pins to move USB data in and out of the device, as well as to charge it. The way Apple implemented this into the headphone jack is by connecting each of these pins to one of the four standard tips or rings you find on a 3.5mm TRS connector (or headphone plug).

Usually, these tips and rings are used to move audio data from an iPod into a connected set of headphones, but when you connect an iPod shuffle to your computer, they do double duty to sync and charge your device! Ingenious!

USB is undeniably elegant. When you plug a USB device into your computer, the drivers for that device are automatically loaded and your PC suddenly knows how to talk with it. Even to an average person, those USB pins make perfect sense. What else would you want a connector to do besides move data and power in and out of a device?

The problem with USB, though, is that it was designed as a protocol to standardize PC peripherals: keyboards, mice, digital cameras, printers, disk drives, that sort of thing. In other words, USB expects that you’ll be using a traditional desktop computer to load drivers to access an accessory.

The problem with USB is that it expects you’ll be using a traditional desktop computer at one end.

And that’s the problem. Your iPhone, your iPad, your iPod… sure, these are all computers, but they don’t load drivers. In conventional desktop computing terms, these are still accessories. So how do you get one accessory to talk to another accessory without drivers?

That’s where Apple’s 30-Pin Dock Connector comes in. It allows an iPhone, an iPad or an iPod to talk directly to compatible accessories, no drivers required. It’s the soul of Apple’s billion-dollar iPod, iPhone and iPad accessory empire. And it’s secretly one of the best inventions Apple’s ever made.

Why 30 Pins?

The Future Of Apple’s Dock Connector [Feature]

Each of these pins is like a tumbler in a lock.

When Apple first debuted the original iPod back in 2001, it didn’t use the 30-Pin Apple Dock Connector we all know and hate/love today… it used Firewire, Apple’s own answer to USB, to pump juice and data from a Mac into their portable music player. Starting in 2003, though, Apple suddenly dropped the standard Firewire connector and adopted the proprietary 30-Pin Apple Dock Connector they use today.

The reason Apple did this was simple: the iPod had become such an iconic device, such an extension of self for so many people, that accessory makers were clamoring to be able to build iPod-compatible hardware. By switching to a proprietary Dock Connector, Apple could not only allow accessory makers to easily make their devices communicate with an iPod without drivers, they could also launch a profitable “Made for iPod” licensing business.

By switching to 30 pins, Apple allowed accessories to easily communicate with iPods without drivers, launching a profitable “Made for iPod” licensing business.

The 30-Pin Dock Connector is what allowed Apple to turn the iPod, then the iPhone and iPad, into the hub of so many people’s digital lives. Thanks to the Apple Dock Connector, we have cars that can speak with our iPhones or iPads, televisions that can suck movies from our iPods and display them 50-inches high, and an endless and affordable array of iPod-compatible toys, peripherals, accessories and speaker docks.

It’s telling that the one iDevice that doesn’t ship with a 30 Pin Dock Connector — the iPod shuffle — is the one that has a negligible number of third-party accessories made for it: the iPod shuffle is the only iPod that uses straight USB instead of 30 pins.

So how does the Apple Dock Connector work, and why is it different than just USB?

How The Dock Connector Works

The Future Of Apple’s Dock Connector [Feature]

It might not look like much…

We’ve already seen that a USB connector only has four pins: two for data, one for power and one for ground. It’s up to a connected computer to be able to load drivers to be smart and powerful enough to translate the data coming from a USB device into a format it can actually work with.

The 30-Pin Apple Dock Connector works quite differently, though. Each pin has a specific function, and all a compatible accessory needs to do is watch what data is coming through the specific pins it needs to provide that device’s functionality.

Think of the Apple Dock Connector like a lock, and a compatible accessory like a key. In any lock, there are a number of tumblers; for a key to open that lock, it needs to be precisely cut so that its ridges trip those tumblers and then unlock, say, a door or a box.

That’s how the 30-Pin Apple Dock Connector works. While two of those thirty pins do provide USB data-in and data-out for the purposes of syncing, the rest have very specific functions. The result is that if you plug your iPhone into, say, a speaker dock, the speaker dock’s connector is configured so that it only trips the pins it needs: in this case, audio out and power in. An accessory made to display video from your iPod classic on your TV, on the other hand, will be configured to only watch the video out and audio out pins. And so on.

It’s actually extremely elegant. The original 30-Pin Dock Connector was a remarkably future-proof design, and Apple has added functionality to many of the blank pins over time; until now, there’s a pin for nearly every function an accessory could possibly want to provide. The benefits for accessory makers are huge, because they don’t have to make devices with power-hungry CPUs to try to figure out and translate all of the data coming in and out of an iDevice into a format it can actually use.

After nine years, it’s in Apple’s vested interest to make make a smaller, better Dock Connector.

But there’s a catch. While the Apple Dock Connector has lasted almost a decade without a significant design change, it’s one of the bulkiest components of an iPhone or iPad. That makes the Dock Connector a big bottleneck when it comes to slimming down future iPhones and iPads and giving them better battery life. After nine years, it’s in Apple’s vested interest to make a smaller, better Dock Connector.

Luckily, it’s not that hard to do.

How To Shrink 30 Pins

When Apple first introduced the 30-Pin Dock Connector in 2003, they made it to be future proof, with a pin available for every conceivable connection… but after a decade of tech innovation, even Cupertino’s sophisticated soothsaying has reached its limits. In 2012, many of the pins on the 30-Pin Apple Dock Connector are reserved for obsolete technology.

It’s not important for us to understand what every pin on the Apple Dock Connector does, although if you’re interested, there’s a complete list of pin-by-pin functionality here. Let’s just concern ourselves for now with the pins that Apple probably doesn’t need anymore:

Pin Signal Description
8,9 Video Out Composite video output (only when the slideshow mode is active on iPod Photo)
10 S-Video Luminance output for iPod Color, Photo only
19,20 +12V Firewire Power 12 VDC (+)
22 TPA (-) FireWire Data TPA (-)
24 TPA (+) FireWire Data TPA (+)
26 TPB (-) FireWire Data TPB (-)
28 TPB (+) FireWire Data TPB (+)
29,30 GND FireWire Ground (-)

Notice anything? A full eight pins on the 30 Pin Dock Connector are dedicated to maintaining Firewire compatibility. The only problem is that Apple has abandoned Firewire in favor of USB 2, Thunderbolt and now USB 3. It’s pretty much a dead technology. All of those pins can be reclaimed without impacting consumers or accessory makers (except in extremely marginal cases).

We can easily shave 11 pins off of a 30-Pin Apple Dock Connector.

That’s not all. We’ve also highlighted pins 8, 9 and 10, which seem to exist only to provide pretty marginal video-out functionality to a handful of iPods. Between both the Firewire pins and the legacy video-out pins, we can easily shave 11 pins off of a 30-Pin Apple Dock Connector, leaving just 19 pins total.

And what do you know? That’s exactly the number of pins Apple’s rumored to be moving to in its newer, smaller Dock Connector.

Why Apple Won’t Do Anything More Exotic

The Future Of Apple’s Dock Connector [Feature]

19 Pins is the future. Not 30, not micro USB.

As we’ve seen, there are two main reasons why Apple has kept the 30-Pin Dock Connector standard for so long: it makes it much easier for accessories to communicate directly with iPhones, iPods and iPads, and Apple has a lucrative side business selling “Made for iPod, iPhone or iPad” certifications to accessory makers.

The result is that after ten years, there are hundreds of millions of accessories in homes and store shelves that require a 30-Pin Dock connector. Any change to the connector Apple uses is going to cause a major upset amongst both consumers and Apple’s partners.

Apple’s accessory partners are “panicked like a deer in headlights” at the idea of Apple changing the dock connector.

Kyle Wiens of iFixIt says that all of Apple’s accessory partners are “panicked like a deer in headlights” at the idea of Apple changing any aspect of the dock connector.

Which leads us to the last problem. If Apple were to totally abandon its current design philosophy when it comes to the Dock Connector, the impact on the environment would be huge. Kyle Wiens of iFixIt again says that such a transition could create millions of tons of electronic waste as everyone throws out their old, obsolete accessories. That’s a bad scene for everyone.

That’s why the best option available to Apple is to just drop the pins accessory makers aren’t using from the existing Apple Dock Connector. Doing so will allow Apple to make the connector at least 37% smaller while still maintaining backwards compatibility by selling a 30-Pin-to-19-Pin adapter, which, of course, will also make Apple a tidy profit. All the while keeping relationships intact with both accessory partners and customers who might otherwise have seen thousands of dollars worth of their “Made for iPod”, “Made for iPad” or “Made for iPhone” accessories become obsolete overnight.

Conclusion

The Future Of Apple’s Dock Connector [Feature]

What an 19-Pin Apple Dock Connector Adapter could look like, courtesy of melablog.it.

The 30-Pin Apple Dock Connector is one of the most efficient, versatile, future-proof and forward-thinking gadgets Apple has ever made. Even today, the principle behind the Apple Dock Connector is inherently sound, and much more empowering to both accessory makers and consumers alike than micro USB. As a bonus, because it’s a proprietary standard, Apple makes a tidy sum licensing the technology to third parties.

It’s a fantastic invention… so fantastic that, even after ten years, Apple has no reason to abandon it. The only thing they need to do to keep the Dock Connector relevant is slim it down by ditching the pins no one needs anymore. And once Apple does that with the iPhone 5, expect the new, slimmer, 19-Pin Apple Dock Connector to last another ten years… until we finally ditch tethering our iDevices to other gadgets once and for all.