A few years ago Apple, the company which breaks with tradition and doesn’t seem afraid to abandon older technology for newer technology, dropped the 30-pin connector in favor of the little Lightning connector which does more, takes up less space, and is easier to use.
Yes, the smaller connector has many advantages over the older 30-pin connector but customers and critics howled aloud because change. This year Apple decided to ditch the iPhone’s headphone jack to make way for more battery, stereo speakers, a more watertight case, and because wireless is growing so now it’s time to move on. Yes, the nattering nabobs of negativism howled again.
Kill The Lightning Port
You know this is coming, right? Maybe not with iPhone 8 next year. But it’s coming. Say goodbye to the proprietary Lightning port. It’s quite likely that at some point in the iPhone’s future there may not be any ports or buttons at all. Apple just got itself a new patent, specifically, #9,453,976, that leans in that direction and it may have a revolutionary effect on our favorite smartphone.
What is it?
An electronic device having an optical connector that provides and/or receives optical signals through openings or perforations formed at an external surface of the electronic device. These openings can serve as the interface of the optical connector through which the electronic device can engage in one-way or two-way communication with corresponding optical connectors of other electronic devices. These openings can be sized such that they are not visible or not easily visible with the naked human eye
Wading through the techno-gibberish indicates Apple is working on a magnetic connector able to pick up signals that will allow it to charge the iPhone and send data back and forth. Such a move would fit nicely into my view of a future iPhone which has no ports, no connectors, and no buttons. A fully wireless, buttonless, and almost hole-less iPhone which is mostly screen and case, devoid of the front’s Home button chin, and a slimmed down forehead (the camera has to be positioned somewhere).
As to not having any holes at all, well, the laws of physics must be obeyed. Speakers, for now, require holes; as does the microphone. The iPhone’s front facing selfie camera can remain as is, placed behind the screen’s glass.
Wireless battery charging is already here but hasn’t really been done right, so it’s unlikely that Apple will kill the Lightning connector purely for that reason. Instead, I envision a Mac-like MagSafe-like magnetic cable which passes power and data– which is what the Lightning connector does now– but which does not require a hole in the iPhone’s case.
It could happen and there is precedent.
Back in 1998 Apple killed the floppy disk in the original iMac. Here we are nearly 20 years later and app developers still use a floppy disk icon as the save icon in their apps, so you can see it takes many years for real changes to take full effect. Apple is the reason you don’t see a CD-DVD player in nearly every new Mac, and in post new PC notebooks. Apple is the reason Flash isn’t available on handheld mobile devices. Apple is the reason new computers use Retina displays. Apple is the reason USB-C exists and might be the reason it dies a slow, lingering death in a wireless future devoid of buttons, connectors, and maybe even holes.
I see an iPhone future where the device is mostly screen, fully watertight and nearly waterproof (waterproof and water resistant are not the same things) with an increasingly smaller number of holes in the case.
It could happen. And Apple’s latest patent indicates the iPhone maker thinks so, too.