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Will future Apple iOS devices get rid of the 30-pin connector?

Photo: Jon Snyder/Wired

The 30-pin connector has become a mainstay of all of Apple’s mobile devices, but could it soon be replaced by something more similar to the MagSafe adapter used in the company’s laptops? A newly uncovered (thanks to AppleInsider) Apple patent reveals that the company might be exploring incorporating a MagSafe-like adapter into future devices and abandoning the ubiquitous 30-pin connector. The patent also hints at using similar technology with the headphone port. 

The magnetic MagSafe adapters were introduced back in 2006 for Apple’s MacBook Pro and were and still are well-loved for the fact that they easily pop into place and similarly pop out of place should someone (or you) trip on your power cord, leaving your laptop safe from any tugs or pulls. The problem with the current 30-pin connector (and headphone jack) is that they prevent the device from being sealed. Both spots have water sensors to detect if some kind of liquid seeped into the device that way, which does happen and is a problem that Apple and consumers would no doubt like to see eradicated. 

The patent shows that Apple would like to use “coded magnets” in both the device and the adapter to share data information across the connection. The use of these magnets would allow the device to be better sealed from water damage, and without 30 pins (literally) sticking out all the time, there would be less room for other damage, like when all of us try desperately to fit our connector cord into the device before realizing that it’s backwards. Oops. Using a similar magnet technology in the headphone plug would also allow that port to be better sealed from damage, but would also require new headphones or connector cords, which would be a little bit of a pain. Not to mention that the entire iOS peripheral industry might be a little upset by this change. 

The patent was originally filed in July of 2011, but there’s no telling whether this technology will soon be incorporated into iOS devices. If this technology gets us anywhere closer to a waterproof phone immune from spills and drops in the bathtub, then we are all for it. 

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