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Is Apple making yet another connector for iPhone accessories?

Short answer: yes, but it probably doesn’t matter

Apple has launched a developer preview of a new accessory connector called the, erm, Ultra Accessory Connector. It has the internet confused and worried in equal measure – so what’s the deal?

Well, this space-saving connector is designed for use with third-party products like headphones, licensed through the Made For iPhone (MFi) scheme. The new connector with be compatible with other formats including Lightning and USB-C, and is more or less identical to the small 8-pin connectors found on Nikon devices for years.

People were mad when Apple replaced the iPhone’s old 30-pin connector with the Lightning port, people were mad when Apple removed the 3.5mm headphone jack from the iPhone 7, and people were mad when Apple removed everything except USB-C from the latest MacBook Pro. It’s a law of the universe: Apple love to ditch widely used technologies, and people love to get mad about it. So is the cycle happening again?

Thankfully, it doesn’t look that way. The Verge stepped in with its take on proceedings, with the reassurance that Apple “has no intention to replace Lightning or install this as a new jack on iPhones or iPads.” Rather, this new Ultra Accessory Connector will be used as an “intermediary” for use with headphones and possibly other accessories. Basically another dongle, then.

It’s a problem only a lucky few have: those with the iPhone 7 (Lightning only) and the new MacBook Pro (USB-C only) currently find themselves in an accessory dead zone in which it’s impossible to find headphones cross-compatible with both Apple products. This new connector will solve that issue, effectively acting as an extra adapter to make Lightning headphones (or even, potentially, regular 3.5mm headphones) compatible with USB-C ports. And vice versa, presumably.

So, bottom line? It’s a bit of a confusing mess, but this new tech won’t effect the majority of users. As you were, internet.