Apple accessories are set to get a new connector type that could, in some cases, replace the use of Lightning and USB connectors, a new report claims.
The firm recently launched a developer preview of the new Ultra Accessory Connector (UAC), which it plans to implement through its official Made-for-iPhone licencing program, sources told 9to5Mac.
The new 8-pin connector, which is already used by some camera and headphone makers, is smaller than both USB-C and Lightning, and so far appears to be designed for use primarily with headphones.
The space-saving UAC measures 2.05mm by 4.85mm at the tip, and is similar in shape to the ultra mini USB connectors that come with accessories such as Nikon cameras, according to 9to5Mac.
It would be used as a headphone-side connector, both male and female, to provide a universal connection, Apple Insider reports.
Interchangeable cables would allow for the accommodation of a host device, such as a Lightning, USB-C, or 3.5mm headset jack.
While the name may sound unfamiliar, the connector design isn’t actually new.
It’s currently available on the market under a slew of different names from other firms, like Mitsumi’s ‘Ultra Mini Connector’ and Nikon’s ‘UC-E6’ cable.
According to ArsTechnica, the move stems from the requests of licensees in its MFi program, rather than Apple’s efforts to push a new connector.
And, while it could add another type of connection to the mix, it isn’t meant to be a complete replacement for the others.
Just days ago, it was revealed that Apple has patented a wearable battery charger to top up its Apple watches on the go.
The patent reveals a new look for Apple's latest watch model with a rounded face.
The patent, published by the US Patent and Trademark Office today, is listed as a 'charging apparatus for wearable electronic device.'
The wearable charger will likely use a magnetic charge point for easy snap on / snap off access.
Two different charger designs are described in the patent.
One shows the charger embedded into the wristband of the watch.
The second depicts a separate module that sits underneath the chassis of the watch and then attaches to the band.
Apple has proposed the use of special 'heat-dissipating' circuitry to stop the battery module burning users.
The patent suggests that the wireless unit could be plugged in to recharge when not in use.
It remains unclear whether Apple will ever actually make the wearable charger.
But Apple seems to be investigating battery solutions that don't sacrifice the thinness of its new Series 2 design, which is already thicker than the Series 1.
Improving the battery life of the next Apple Watch is one of the main targets for Taiwanese company Quanta, who are responsible for manufacturing the watch, reports Macrumors.
Apple patents 'dual mode' headphones that turns into a speaker
Apple is developing technology that turns your headphones into speakers.
A new patent describes adding special sensors to the device that activate a ‘speaker mode’ when the headphones are placed in a certain position.
Called ‘dual mode’, users could switch between personal listening and speaker mode by rotating the earbuds or cups outward at a 90 degree angle.
The patent, titled ‘Dual mode headphones and methods for constructing the same’, was filed in May 2011 and describes in-ear and clip-on headphones that would embody the same sensors and amplifiers to be used as speakers.
‘A sensor in the headphones can detect the current position of the headphones, and can change the mode of the circuit to correspond to the detected current position,’ reads the document published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Tuesday.
‘For example, the sensor can change between an in-ear mode in which the amplifier is bypassed and a speaker mode in which the amplifier is powered and used.
‘In some cases, the headphones can include a sensor for preventing the speaker mode when the headphones are positioned near a user's ears.’
‘Any suitable type of sensor can be used including, for example, a mechanical sensor, a photoresistive sensor, a capacitance sensor, a proximity sensor, an IR sensor, an ambient light sensor, a Hall effect sensor, a resistive sensor, a sensor detecting impedance or voltage changes due to a contact between the headphones and a user, or any suitable combination thereof,’ reads the patent.
For example, a proximity sensor could detect that wearer’s ear and know that it should be in headphone mode – this way the sensors will not activate speaker mode and damage the user’s eardrum.
But when the cups are turned outward and on their side, the sensors will know to turn up the volume for speaker mode.
The patent illustrates that its EarPods and AirPods could also be redesigned with this technology.
These sets would have the same sensors and amplifiers as what appears to be the larger Beats headphones, but ‘on a smaller and more compact scale, reports Apple Insider.
Apple may also incorporate a snap band headphone into the mix that would be equip with a button that users could press to activate speaker mode – instead of sensors that monitor its position.
As Apple Insider notes, the technology listed in the patent is not far fetched, as Apple designed its iPhone 7 family with a speaker arrangement that produces stereo sound when the handset is in landscape mode.
Apple is working on smart glasses and could release AR gadge
Apple may be moving into the world of smart glasses.
The wearable headset would connect wirelessly to iPhones and show information that is superimposed onto a user's view of the real world.
The iPhone maker is believed to be working with Carl Zeiss on the project, which could go on sale this year.
'A Zeiss employee confirmed the rumors that Apple and Carl Zeiss AG are working on a light pair of augmented reality/mixed reality glasses that may be announced this year,' blogger Roberty Scoble wrote.
'I thought it was next year but now that I saw this I believe it will happen this year.'
The firm has talked about the project with potential suppliers for Google Glass-style headsets.
A recent report by Bloomberg cites 'people familiar with the issue' who asked not to be identified. .
Chief Executive Tim Cook, who has been struggling with a slowdown in iPhone sales in recent quarters, said earlier this year that the company would continue to invest a lot into augmented reality (AR).
Augmented reality is a tool that overlays digital information with the user's environment in real-time.
The glasses would be Apple's first product targeted directly at AR, according to the report.
The firm has built up its AR research through the acquisition of several firms, including PrimeSense, which developed motion-sensing technology in Microsoft's Kinect Gaming syste.
'AR can be really great, and we have been and continue to invest a lot in this,' Mr Cook said in a conference call with analysts.
'We are high on AR for the long run. We think there are great things for customers and a great commercial opportunity.'
Apple, the world's largest technology company, has ordered a small number of near-eye displays for testing but has not obtained enough for production on a larger scale, the report added.
Apple declined to comment.
The move would make Apple the latest technology company to venture into wearable glasses.
Alphabet Inc's discontinued its own wearable glass headset, Google Glass, and closed the social media account linked to the device earlier this year, ending its attempt to popularize the expensive devices with consumers.
The device received plenty of attention when it was launched in 2012, but quickly ran into problems with its awkward appearance and privacy concerns over video recording.
Snap, an $18 billion (£14 billion) company which makes the popular messaging app Snapchat, also launched its own video-camera sunglasses last week.
As rumours continue to circulate about Apple's next move for its iOS systems, a new patent suggests augmented reality mapping could be underway.