Hooray, Next-gen USB Plug to be Smaller and Reversible
We confess: We are fans of Apple’s orientation-agnostic Lightning cable that debuted on the iPhone 5, and that’s now used across almost all iOS devices. USB cables? Not so much, since (experienced as we are) there were still times when we tried to jam the connector in the wrong way. But thankfully, at least one person at the USB 3.0 Promoter Group feels the same way, and this is one of the problems the new USB Type-C connector and cable (PDF) aim to solve.
Based on existing USB 3.1 and USB 2.0 specs, the new USB Type-C connector is similar in size to the current USB 2.0 Micro-B, which is the one being used in most Android devices today. Besides being able to fit both ways, it’ll support scalable power charging. Also, it’s designed to scale with future USB bus performance, which means if (and that’s a big if) every USB devices out there adopt it, in the future, there would only be one type of USB cable you need to deal with.
But there are caveats expected in the near future. Since the new USB Type-C plug and receptacle aren’t compatible with existing USB plugs and receptacles, for older devices, new cables and adapters are needed.
The USB Type-C spec is targeted for industry review during the first quarter of 2014; the design is expected to be finalized by the middle of 2014. Perhaps we’d see it debut on the Samsung Galaxy Note 4. If so, it’d bring a swift end to the unwieldy micro-USB 3 port and cable that we see in the Galaxy Note 3. (Update: BBC News says that the first product to use this connector would only hit market by 2016 - if true, that's too long.)
Source: USB-IF press release (PDF).