Apple is letting companies make 3.5mm to Lightning cables now

Apple has updated the specs for its MFi accessories program (which also got a snazzy new logo over the weekend), letting companies now put USB-C ports on licensed devices, as well as create 3.5mm to Lightning cables for the first time, as reported by 9to5Mac.

They’re useful additions for Apple product users, especially as the company switches more towards using USB-C — at least on its laptops. Now third-party companies building things like controllers, battery packs, and speakers can use USB-C charging while still keeping Apple’s stamp of approval.

But Apple is still frustratingly limiting the specification: unlike Lightning ports, which are also part of the MFi spec for accessories, USB-C ports can’t be used for pass-through charging or syncing on iPhones. That means no USB-C charging cases for your iPhone, unfortunately.

As for the 3.5mm to Lightning cable, it’s a useful addition for older headphones with removable cables or speakers with 3.5mm aux inputs, allowing users to directly connect their iPhones without requiring one of Apple’s 3.5mm-in to Lightning dongles.

But more telling is what Apple isn’t including in the specification update: Lightning to USB-C cables, which the company still refuses to let any third-party manufacturers make. This is already frustrating, given that anyone looking to use an iPhone with say, any of Apple’s current MacBook laptops is forced to shell out extra for a cable to connect.

But adding insult to injury, USB-C to Lightning cables are the only way to get true fast charging on iPhone X and 8 devices — meaning that you’re still stuck shelling out either $25 or $35 for Apple’s official USB-C to Lightning Cable (depending on how long you want it). Given how cheap third-party cables from Amazon Basics or Anker can get, it’s all the more vexing that Apple insists on keeping this monopoly for itself.


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