Apple has always gone their own way when it comes to connectors and cable solutions for their devices. While the EU might want all mobile devices to use a standard charging solution, Apple has stuck with their 30-pin connector, until now that is. But instead of conforming, they have brought out a new and smaller version for their iOS devices in the Lightning Connector, an 8-pin version that is much smaller than its predecessor.
So why did Apple change to the new and smaller Lightning Connector, causing widespread compatibility issues with existing dock based accessories? Well, there are many theories around that, but one of the main benefits for Apple is that it allows them to make the iPhone 5, the iPad Mini, and the new iPod Touch 5 as thin as they now actually are.
The smarter connector?
Apple has also made the Lightning Connector smarter than its predecessor, allowing you to connect it to your devices either way around thanks to an included processor. That included processor also has another function; to authenticate other devices connected to it. The new Lightning Connector allows Apple to better control the accessory market and what will work with their new devices. So yes, it is very much about making more money as well!
So what does it work with?
With the new Lightning Connector not being compatible with any dock-type accessory that relies on the old 30-pin connector, Apple and other official suppliers are ready to sell us a wide range of new adapters that will allow us to still get some value out of our old accessories, as well as take advantage of new opportunities in the accessory market.
Lightning to 30-pin adators
Perhaps the one that is going to be most useful for all those that already own an iPhone speaker dock that is not set up for wireless streaming (aka Airplay speaker). The adaptor is not cheap though, as the official Apple one will set you back £25 from the Apple Store. Also be aware that it does not support video output. Same goes with the cable version that will set you back £30.
If you are not that bothered about docking your new device, but still want to get the best use out of your 30-pin iPod speaker dock, then you can always check out alternatives for enabling wireless streaming, such as these bluetooth dock adapters.
Other Lightning Connectors
Apple is also offering other Lightning based cables and adaptors, such as Lightning to USB (£15), Lightning to Micro USB (£15), Lightning to Digital AV cable and Lightning to VGA cable, both priced at £39.
There are other less official Lightning adaptors in the market that are priced cheaper, but unless they are Apple approved there are no guarantees that they will work 100% with your device. Might be worth checking carefully customer feedback etc. before buying one that you are not sure is Apple licensed.
Luckily it looks like we are starting to see more and more Apple authenticated solutions from other leading accessory brands start appearing, including from Belkin, iLuv and others. If you have found one that you are not sure if is 100% approved by Apple, take a look at the Apple Store, and if you find it there it is definitely safe.