Apple is reportedly planning to develop a new connector type, the Ultra Accessory Connector, for accessories for the iPhone, iPad and other devices through its official Made-for-iPhone (MFi) licensing programme. All of Apple’s current products use two different kinds of connector types: Lightning, which is found on iPhones, and USB-C, which is used on the new MacBook Pro to attach accessories and charge the laptop. The new connector can be used by accessory makers for headphone cables.
Apple has recently launched a developer preview of the connector for some MFi manufacturers. The MFi program shows that an accessory has been designed to connect to an iOS device and certified to meet Apple’s performance standards. It would help save space and would be compatible with headphones and headsets. Apple currently lets accessory makers use its Lightning connector for chargers and headphones, especially after the recent iPhone 7 launch left the Lightning port as the only port on the device.
The new 8-pin connector measures 2.05mm by 4.85mm at the tip. That’s thinner than a USB-C connection and almost half the width of both the pictured Lightning connection and USB-C. Apple will allow accessory manufacturers to make Lightning to UAC, USB-A to UAC, and 3.5mm headset jacks to UAC cables which will allow headphones with an UAC port to connect to various Apple devices.
It’s currently unclear if Apple plans on using this connector beyond audio accessories. Right now, only the specs are available to manufacturers via a developer preview to prepare them for adoption of the new spec and hardware.