back to article Apple 'insider' explains why vid adapter hides ARM computer

Mac applications developer Panic has found something interesting inside an Apple video adapter: a computer. While trying to figure out why video output from some iDevices was so poor, the company cracked open a Lightning AV Adapter, a $US49 accessory that is sold as allowing Apple devices to send video to HDMI devices in …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    GPIB?!?! AHHHHHHHH!!!!

    GPIB? KILL IT WITH FIRE!

    Seriously: Nuke the entire site from orbit, it's the only way to be sure!

    Let the 1980's have their technology, for the sake of all sanity! If you must do this, use LXI.

    1. Simon Harris Silver badge

      Re: GPIB?!?! AHHHHHHHH!!!!

      Well there's an acronym from the past!

      I think the last time I used GPIB was in an experiment on my electronic engineering course round about 1984, and then it was on a Commodore PET!

      1. the spectacularly refined chap

        Re: GPIB?!?! AHHHHHHHH!!!!

        It's still in quite widespread use if you look in the right places. While mass-produced stuff has generally abandoned it even in its traditional test equipment heartland it retains the advantage of being very easy to implement - it's the only bus that can transmit at those kinds of speeds while being built on a generic stripboard for example. If the device in question is a unique one-off that's a very strong attraction, since the costs of PCB design and fabrication can't be amortised over a large number of units. The relatively simple protocol (especially by multidrop standards) at both ends of the connection helps massively with those short-run costs too.

        I work in just that kind of short-run embedded engineering shop. Several times I have sat down at 9am with a list of requirements and gone home at 5pm having designed a circuit, written the firmware and host software, built the thing and tested it. That's doable with GPIB. The next preferred option would be 10base-T, but that means careful impedance matching, PCB layout, a TCP/IP stack on the device, more sophisticated host software, etc etc. The unit costs will end up lower but you have to offset those against the design costs: that's generally at least a day's work and if the production run is three or four easier is almost always cheaper.

        1. Trygve Henriksen

          Re: GPIB?!?! AHHHHHHHH!!!!

          Stop wasting your (and the company's) time and money.

          If the equipment has a serial port(they can be implemented even easier than GPIB) you can go directly to a Serial-to-Ethernet adapter.

          Oh, and all the GPIB equipment you now no longer need can be sent to me... ;-)

        2. Measurer
          Thumb Up

          Re: GPIB?!?! AHHHHHHHH!!!!

          Careful, it sounds suspiciously like you know what your talking about..... I used to nurse an old 486dx 33MHz with ISA GPIB card along until about 2004, when it finally gave up the ghost. Only thing that would talk to a spectrum analyser for testing EMC emissions. Looked for a USB to GPIB interface widget back after P.C failed, but don't remember finding one.

          Happy daze......

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: GPIB?!?! AHHHHHHHH!!!!

            You can get USB to GPIB adapters from National Instruments, and you can get Ethernet to GPIB adapters as well (VXI-11.2).

            But please!

            GPIB leads to SCPI

            SCPI leads to hate

            Hate leads to suffering

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: GPIB?!?! AHHHHHHHH!!!!

            Can you hack one up with an Arduino?

          3. Someone Else Silver badge
            Happy

            @ 'chap and Measurer -- Re: GPIB?!?! AHHHHHHHH!!!!

            Ah, yes GPIB...My first truly embedded work was to implement a GPIB transponder using...wait for it...an Intel 8748 (second only to the RCA Cosmac as sporting the absolute worst instructions set even embedded into silicon).

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: GPIB?!?! AHHHHHHHH!!!!

      In a previous job in the late '90s, whilst 'decommisioning' an old Mainframe I came across several boxes of GPIB leads, (yes, the Mainframe had a GPIB interface card) was told to bin them with the rest of the garbage, but passed them on to a research group who I knew had a fair amount of test gear with GPIB ports. I was later told by one of the guys there that a rough estimate on the cost of purchasing the leads I'd given them was in the order of £4,500.

      My next job I had the delights of administering a Linux box connected to a £750,000 'device' via our old friend GPIB, and, AFAIK, that beastie is still in use.

  2. Lars Silver badge
    Joke

    Linux

    Perhaps, just kidding of course.

    1. Michael Thibault
      Linux

      Re: Linux

      Throwing the dogs a bone, or what!?

      I fully expect to be running Light(e)ning Linux within the year, but strictly for shits-n-giggles.

      Gnaw!

  3. Anonymous Coward
    WTF?

    Are you kidding?

    An overpriced laptop that needs an overpriced adaptor with it's own CPU and Ram to push out the same video that thousands of other laptops at less than half the price can push out over a $7 HDMI adaptor.

    WTF?????

    1. E Haines
      FAIL

      Re: Are you kidding?

      Nobody's talking about laptops here. This is about iDevices and the Lightning connector, as the article very clearly states.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Are you kidding?

        My bad - I should have said:

        An overpriced iDevice that needs an overpriced adaptor with it's own CPU and Ram to push out the same video that loads of Android devices at less than half the price can push out over a $5 (on Amazon) mini-HDMI to HDMI cable.

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: Are you kidding?

          But you don't understand. By taking the HDMI connector out the iDevice and putting it in its own adaptor, Apple simplify the iDevice's hardware design and therefore reduce costs and so pass the savings onto... oh.

          1. jai

            Re: Are you kidding?

            @OP - the point is that there is a single port on the iDevice, which is used for multiple functions, not just video out. one port, multiple adapters. not multiple ports, each with a separate adapter each.

            you're obviously content to have a device with multiple ports, which you may or may not need. iDevices have a single port, which you at least need for charging and possibly for syncing. if you want to do anything else with it, then you buy an adapter, but not everyone needs video out. not everyone needs a GPIB interface. So the few that want a video out via cable have to pay a bit extra. the rest of us stream to our AppleTVs to get video on the telly, without having to pay even the $5 for the hdmi adapter you mention.

            1. Irongut

              Re: Are you kidding? (jai)

              I've got iNews for you jai, Androids have one port that they use for multiple functions as well. Charging, USB connection and HDMI output... all on the same connector without needing an expensive cable that has a computer inside it. Now what was the benefit of all that extra iMoney you spent?

              1. SpiderPig

                Re: Are you kidding? (jai)

                Nokia had that with the N8, well before any Android devices or iDevices for that matter. In fact they had a lot of things well before Apple decided it was them who enlightened the masses....sorry Fanboys.

            2. JEDIDIAH
              Linux

              Re: Are you kidding?

              > @OP - the point is that there is a single port on the iDevice, which is used for multiple functions,

              Sounds suspiciously like USB minus the whole "it's standardized and everyone else uses it' part.

          2. David Cantrell
            Boffin

            Re: Are you kidding?

            and pass the savings on to people who don't want to attach their phones to a projector or TV. ie, most users. Seems sensible.

        2. Richard Joseph
          Thumb Up

          Re: Are you kidding?

          No, you forget that the Android device can, currently, push out HIGHER QUALITY video from a device that costs $5 on Amazon....

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Are you kidding?

      You're getting Thunderbolt mixed up with Lightning.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Are you kidding?

        > You're getting Thunderbolt mixed up with Lightning.

        That's very very frightening.

        1. VinceH Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: Are you kidding?

          "That's very very frightening."

          You bar steward. You beat me to it. :)

          1. Anonymous Coward 15

            Re: Are you kidding?

            He's just a poor boy from a poor family.

            1. TeeCee Gold badge
              Coat

              Re: Are you kidding?

              Spare him his life from this monstrosity.

              Great. That's got the thread back on topic......

              1. Anonymous C0ward

                Re: Are you kidding?

                So you think you can love me and leave me to die?

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Coat

              Re: Are you kidding?

              > He's just a poor boy from a poor family.

              Spare him his life from these pork sausages.

              (Sorry, that's what I used to think the lyrics were...)

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This was really stupid

    Having created a smaller port, they find they can't send 1080p video over it. So:

    a) outputting from an iPad to a TV means horrible video quality

    b) You can't use an old dock-to-hdmi and a new lightning-to-old dock adapter together, even though some Apple stores have claimed you can.

    c) expensive adapters

    I actually like Lightning on my iPad 4, and this isn't relevant to me since I don't connect it to a TV, but I bet this means Lightning has a very short lifespan-there's no way it'll be able to do 4K when that arrives.

    1. P. Lee Silver badge

      Re: This was really stupid

      although it is a lightning port, not a video port.

      In this case, it just happens to be used for video.

      I don't have a ipad/phone, but I reckon a 10gb/s generic link with a few fixable flaws is better than a dedicated video link.

      1. JeeBee
        FAIL

        Re: This was really stupid

        Yeah, but it quite clearly isn't 10gbps if it can't even stream 1080p HDMI, which is under 5gbps.

        Indeed it looks like it can't even stream 1080p H.264 (although this might be an issue with the iDevice's video encoder rather than Lightning itself).

        Clearly Apple's use case is iDevice -> TV via an AppleTV over AirPlay. How dare you deviate from that.

    2. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

      Re: This was really stupid

      a) outputting from an iPad to a TV means horrible video quality

      .. which is why you'd simply push it wireless to an Apple TV. Works. Using AirParrot we do the same with Windows laptops..

      1. BristolBachelor Gold badge
        Coat

        @Fred Flintstone Re: This was really stupid

        ".. which is why you'd simply push it wireless to an Apple TV. Works. Using AirParrot we do the same with Windows laptops.."

        Hold on, so instead of carrying around my Galaxy note and HDMI adaptor (£5 on Amazon), I have to carry around an Apple TV as well as an ipad?

        1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

          Re: @Fred Flintstone This was really stupid

          Hold on, so instead of carrying around my Galaxy note and HDMI adaptor (£5 on Amazon), I have to carry around an Apple TV as well as an ipad?

          :)

          No, you're correct in that that would be useless for portable applications (my oversight, I tend to use a "normal" laptop for that which has a boring VGA adaptor). It's more for the reverse - we have a fairly large screen in our office which has become the major means of presentation since we stuck an old v2 Apple TV on it that someone had lying around gathering dust. Might as well give it something useful to do..

    3. Volker Hett

      Even more so

      I don't expect my 32gb iPad to hold a 4k Video. On the other hand, it's an iPad 1 and I don't expect it to hold anything besides my manuals and textbooks :)

  5. James 47

    It's the Apple iPi

    1. proto-robbie
      Linux

      Hot dicketty...

      If you daisy-chain them can you make a supercomputer? Running Linux?

      1. TeeCee Gold badge
        Alert

        Re: Hot dicketty...

        Now you've done it. It can't be long until some ubergeek reads that and builds a Beowulf cluster running on Apple interface adaptors.

  6. JaitcH
    FAIL

    Can anyone explain why ...

    the Apple cable that can be plugged in any which way needs a chip?

    Much better to use a standard connector ... but Apple couldn't screw it's customers USD$39 for the thing. ($5 in China)

    1. ThomH Silver badge

      Re: Can anyone explain why ...

      I can explain the theory. By reducing what the connector does to 'a serial bidirectional stream of data' you turn all possible external connectors into mere software extensions. Whatever you want to output must already be data within the device, so you export that data over the connector and let the cable worry about reformatting it.

      In this case that appears likely to have put some sort of video codec into the loop between device and cable and leaves the cable having to decompress video and run a framebuffer.

      So what Apple has done, in contrast to the single-port Android phones, is made no concessions whatsoever to the two or three cables it's pretty obvious most people are going to use in real life right now. I guess the calculation was that the chips that have to go into the cables are going to be very cheap very soon and they need a connector that they can stick with for ten or more years in order to ensure accessory lock-in. There's probably also an argument that they've overreacted to the old connector having long disused pins for Firewire, still having what will very soon be obsolete pins for analogue video, etc, etc.

  7. csumpi
    Paris Hilton

    the screwing began much before this

    "Contrary to the opinions presented in this thread, we didn’t do this to screw the customer. "

    No, probably not with the adapter. You screwed the consumer when you made the lightning connector (or whatever hipster name you came up for it). It's a crappy connector (to hard to remove because it's way too tight and the part you hold is too small). It's not compatible with accessories (I know, there's an adapter for that, too, but how do all these adapters jive with the magical design philosophy?).

    But the real screwing is that there's a perfectly awesome, widely used connector out there: the micro usb. I have dozens of those cables and chargers around, because all my devices use it. Some firm who never innovates, just copies (sam sung what?), even shoots HDMI over it.

    Paris, because she loves what you did to her.

    1. Alan Denman

      a crappy fortube spent then

      Using that hammer to crack the egg costs consumer a fortune.

      You gotta laugh but hey!, it is the one and only so who cares?

      1. BorkedAgain
        Thumb Up

        Re: a crappy fortube spent then

        ...and the Tuba Mackerel random post generator prize goes to... Alan Denman!

    2. xpusostomos

      Don't be silly

      lightning is WAY better than micro-USB. A good connector OUGHT to be tight. And because of the nature of the uses put to it, often is the main thing holding devices into their cradles. And it works both orientations. Micro USB is extremely fiddly, hard to slot in, and has no holding power. As for speed, lightning is basically USB, so no pros or cons as far as that. Probably lightning will become USB3 at some point.

      Yeah, micro-USB is a standard, it has that advantage. But even ignoring Apple's desire to keep it proprietary, its a way better connector for the situation.

    3. Charles Manning

      Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me!

      Who to blame here: the screwer or the screwee?

      Apple never held a gun to a person's head to sell a product. If you feel screwed then remember you lubed up and spread them.

      Looking for someone to blame? Look in the mirror!

  8. flibbertigibbet

    Copy & Paste from /. ?

    The exact same post appeared on /., earlier:

    http://hardware.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=3509979&cid=43057675

    It looks to me like some kind soul copy and pasted it to Panic's blog.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. the spectacularly refined chap

      Re: Copy & Paste from /. ?

      More likely the other way round - the text is clearly written in response to something else, and it fits quite well as a follow up to the Panic post. It is posted in isolation on Slashdot without any context making the whole message seem a little out of left field. It would also be far from the first time someone has bulk copy and pasted something to Slashdot with nothing in the way of attribution.

      I've no idea as to the respective time zones for those timestamps but is seems clear which was first in reality.

  9. Freon Bale

    So let me get this straight. Apple now gives Apple owners the 'honor' of having to upgrade the firmware on CABLES?!?! And worse, on a cable technology guaranteed NOT to become a standard.

    Oooh, I feel so left out.....SUCKERS!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Wrong. The firmware is held on the iPhone or iPad, when plugging in the adaptor the iDevice uploads the firmware into the adaptors RAM and it starts working.

      It's actually a very neat solution to a problem, but one that probably shouldn't have existed but I guess some people are still stuck in the cable era.

      There are many other devices that used to do this, USB ADSL adaptors for instance.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        And the great thing for Apple is that when the put out the iOS N.(M+1) "update" then everyone rushes to download it onto their iDevices and they immediately update the firmware on the lightening adaptors which will now respond to the iDevice with the correct response and everything is all fine and dandy in the reassuringly expensive iWorld .... of course, if anyone has broken ranks and bought a cheap third-party cable from ebay then that will probably have the initial handshake with the iDevice hardwired into it and won't be able to be updated to the new version so those users will find they can't connect anymore.

  10. LinkOfHyrule
    Joke

    Updates will be available

    I'm half asleep but if I'm reading this right, you're saying there's going to be an update released for a cable?

    Do you take it down the Apple shop and plonk it in a special update socket or something to do that?

    Please dont tell PC World about this, they'll start claiming SCART sockets have computers inside them in order to justify flogging them for three times as much as a crappy old freeview box to pensioners with old tellies!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Updates will be available

      It'd happen silently-every time you plug the adapter into an iThing the iThing pushes the latest firmware onto it.

  11. Silverburn
    Thumb Up

    Ignoring the fact it's Apple, am I the only one thinking how cool it is you can get get a "Computer" (for one of a better word) into something as small as the cable ending?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Correction

      * for want of a better word

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "an adapter with a CPU and RAM inside might just be the first ever product of its sort to justify its price tag"

    M U G!

  13. Piro
    FAIL

    Hahahaha

    So we had perfectly good standards before, MHL, microHDMI, which have been proven to fit just fine on slim phones, and now Apple had to do it higher priced and actually objectively WORSE, in quality in any metric you prefer - speed, complexity, cost, size, quality of video..

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hahahaha

      Though on the other side of the argument it allows Apple to say that they can control what is connected to their iDevices .... as a user this seems to be a bad idea but for the content providers it may be seen as positive and may be a partial explanation why iPhone/iPad seems to get apps for media streaming first.

    2. DZ-Jay

      Re: Hahahaha

      The part you are missing is that, pay attention now, IT IS NOT A VIDEO PORT. Did you get it? It is a generic, multi-purpose, serial link providing raw information.

      This significantly simplifies the internal design of the device, lowering it's cost and failure potential. One single port, as opposed to myriad dedicated sockets.

      The thing to keep in mind is that not everyone will require wired video output (indeed, most within the Apple ecosystem will just stream wirelessly). They will be spared the expense and complexity of having a dedicated port for it.

      Those that need such a thing can buy an adaptor that implements the necessary transcoding of the signal. Being controlled by software means that it can easily be upgraded and improved.

      It is a rather clever and elegant solution to future-proofing the device.

      dZ.

      1. Eradicate all BB entrants

        Re: Hahahaha

        Future proofing a device from Apple? A company that changes its ports more often than I change my pants.

        1. DrTechnical

          Re: Hahahaha

          Oh really? They used the 30 pin port for a long time on damn near everything. Now, they have a new port. That's two, Mr StinkyBritches. Anything prior to that is old school prehistoric.

          1. Tom 35 Silver badge

            Re: Hahahaha

            That 30 pin port is not always the same. There was the 5v 12v charging thing that affected a lot of people. I had a remote/radio for my iPod nano 2g (Apple not 3rd party) but when I plugged it into my iPod touch 2g it just said it was unsupported device.

      2. Hellcat
        WTF?

        Re: Hahahaha (DZ-Jay)

        Can you please help me find the dedicated and complex video, charging and data ports on my Galaxy s2? I've asked around at work but since none of use are Apple shills we're having trouble finding anything except the microUSB/MHL connector.

        Future proofing: to add complexity to ensure a device cannot be used in the future?

      3. Piro

        Re: Hahahaha

        No, I didn't miss anything, but it is better to include dedicated video pins because it provides a SIMPLER SOLUTION THAN THIS MESS.

      4. Rampant Spaniel

        @DZ-Jay

        I get your point and agree with you, the idea of a generic bus with specific adapters is a reasonable idea, but future proof? It's barely current proof.

        I really don't see the tragedy in having 2 ports rather than one, but if it is THAT distressing and adds so much extra cost to a device with a >30% profit margin then by all means use a single port, but ffs get it right, if you are going to reinvent the wheel, make an effort to at least make sure it rolls.

      5. JEDIDIAH
        Linux

        Re: Hahahaha

        > The part you are missing is that, pay attention now, IT IS NOT A VIDEO PORT. Did you get it? It is a generic, multi-purpose, serial link providing raw information.

        Like USB? Except not standard.

        They could have just put on a standard port and not re-invented the wheel, defied the EU, or screwed over their customers. They could even have left the old connector on the new phones.

        You know it's bad when Archos manages to do something better than Apple.

  14. Crisp Silver badge
    Boffin

    I wonder if you can hack the cable...

    Maybe get that little ARM chip to do something useful.

    1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

      Re: I wonder if you can hack the cable...

      A cable virus! Load it into the cable and it back-hacks the iDevice.

      I believe that there was some concern about FireWire some time back, and some speculation that Lightening may be vulnerable in the same way through RDMA. Anybody remember whether these fears were proved groundless?

      Mind you, as the software had to be loaded from the iDevice in the first place, you you would need to get it past Apples App. police.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I wonder if you can hack the cable...

        Hack? You could wireless broadcast the entire devices use through a hacked cable. Wonderful.

    2. markw:

      Re: I wonder if you can hack the cable...

      Why bother? Just get a Raspberry Pi — it's cheaper...

      1. Crisp Silver badge

        Re: Just get a Raspberry Pi

        And just how am I ^H^H^H^H is a hacker supposed to convince someone to hook up their iDevice to a raspberry pi to steal their credit card info?

        1. TeeCee Gold badge
          Happy

          Re: Just get a Raspberry Pi

          Well, as it seems perfectly possible to get some mug to "refund" a payment made with a rubber cheque, that should be the simple bit.

          If I^Ha hacker were really clever I^Hthey would set up an enterprise flogging Pi's at 150 quid a pop first and win on both the swings and the roundabouts.

        2. Minophis
          Happy

          Re: Just get a Raspberry Pi

          "And just how am I ^H^H^H^H is a hacker supposed to convince someone to hook up their iDevice to a raspberry pi to steal their credit card info?"

          You could put the raspberry pi in a shiny case and charge a small fortune for it.

    3. Rampant Spaniel

      Re: I wonder if you can hack the cable...

      You know someone out there is trying to squeeze a linux distro on it which will then lead onto turning 40 cables into a 'super computer' to run a NTP server on it.

  15. Wardy01
    Facepalm

    Typical Apple and yet ...

    They spend all their time working on their "image" and here's the best irony I've ever seen for Apple!!

    It seems to me that their whole "owning an Apple product makes you cool" and "it just works" philosophies are now gone.

    I've been telling the idiots round the office this for years but do they listen!!

    Even Microsoft wouldn't get something this fundamentally wrong and everyone still holds the 80's against them for being THAT wrong!

    Ditch Apple guys ... and do it fast, we owe Steve Jobs that much at least!

  16. the-it-slayer

    If Samsung did this...

    ...it would be seen as the holy-grail to all cabling problems. Because Apple have their gritty hands on the technology, they're seen as evil and this solution shouldn't exist. If one cable could have different personalities (like this one), bring it on. You could in theory add an extra port to an iDevice and have a backup if one port decides to die on you.

    Just to round up, anything pro-Apple on the reg is an automatic down vote.

    1. Piro

      Re: If Samsung did this...

      No, it would be seen as a nasty hack.

      I don't want a re-encoded nasty stream to the TV, it should be a clean and faithful reproduction.

    2. NumptyScrub

      Re: If Samsung did this...

      quote: "If Samsung did this...

      ...it would be seen as the holy-grail to all cabling problems."

      Samsung already do do a limited version of this. There is 1 (one) headphone socket and 1 (one) micro USB / MHL socket on the Galaxy S3 I am currently looking at. Since iDevices usually have a headphone socket on them, there is in total exactly the same number of ports.

      The main difference is that microUSB and MHL are standards (although in the case of the S3, not-quite MHL pin standard), but only deal with 3 things; charging, data transfer (USB bus) and video transfer (MHL). Note that these only require passive cables, which makes it cheap for the end user. Lightning is a generic data bus, so you will need active adapters (i.e. a cable with a computer in it) but gives as many options for output as, err... there are options for output.

      The fact that they are selling it as a single cable, rather than a box with a multitude of output cables, is slightly more telling. If it were me I'd be marketing it as the one-size-fits-all solution and have HDMI, Ethernet, USB, eSATA, RS232 and any other serial output already on it (or as plugin cables to a proprietary connector on the box, if that is more your thing), with the caveat that apps will need to have the firmware available to be able to use it. Having an ARM-based active adapter for a single use-case seems like it's being artificially limited; if you are already adding a computer with infintely updateable "firmware" (it's more like a software download every time you connect it) then why only have one type of output hardwired in? To make people have to buy a second cable for a second output type?

      1. DougS Silver badge

        Except Samsung did a propriety port also

        GS3 11 pin MHL connector

        If Apple had used a standard like MHL but created a proprietary connector for it, all the Apple haters would be out in force. But here we see the Apple haters praising Samsung. Double standard much?

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Genius!

    They reduce the cost of manufacturing iDevices and simultaneously prevent unlicensed adapter cables from working. They can presumably fuck up unlicensed add-ons that do work by releasing firmware/OS updates that mess with the Lightning port's protocol.

    That said, it is an elegant solution to the problem of interfacing devices, and I do like the idea of an any-way-round connector (micro-USB is a bit small for a keyed connector, too easy to break); but better implemented by creating an industry standard and minimal cross-licensing to encourage adoption I think.

    1. Minophis
      Stop

      Re: Genius!

      "better implemented by creating an industry standard and minimal cross-licensing to encourage adoption I think."

      This is Apple we're talking about.

  18. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge
    Stop

    Opportunistic Apple bashing

    How is this really any different to plugging in a USB module to deliver some functionality not included on the device itself?

    One can argue whether this is the best approach or not, over how well a particular module functions, but the principle is entirely sound.

    I'm going to have to add an external adapter to get my VGA monitor connected to a Raspberry Pi so find it a little hard to criticise Apple in this respect and I don't own a single Apple product before anyone accuses me of fanboism.

    1. JEDIDIAH
      Linux

      Re: Opportunistic Apple bashing

      > How is this really any different to plugging in a USB module to deliver some functionality not included on the device itself?

      It's only compatible with Apple products.

      I can use an OTG cable on an Android device and use it to swipe the USB NIC that's hooked to the back of my Mac. Or I could plug in a USB hub and really go to town.

      An Apple only version of a common standard interface sounds like nonsense out of the 80s.

  19. Dan Paul
    Devil

    Same thing as chips in HP Ink Cartridges

    Didn't HP get spanked for non competitive practices doing the same thing to Ink Cartridges for Inkjet printers?

    Seems pretty low down and nasty to prevent aftermarket competition on simple cables.

    Now I could see a use for an intelligent "Universal Serial/Parallel Adapter" cable that just knew what it was connected to and made the translation.

  20. parityerror
    FAIL

    This makes MHL look elegant.

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