Apple Job Listings Suggest Dock Connector Innovation Is in Its Future
Two however-to-be filled job listings posted in mid- to late-2011 hint at a a extremely precise future Apple innovation. And it is one particular that has been widely speculated upon: dock connectors.
The job postings, Connector Design Engineer and Product Design Eng – Connector, are both “responsible for managing many connector styles and developments in assistance of the iPod item lines.” The positions also entail adapting existing connectors to new technological developments and designing completely new dock connectors specifically for the iPod line, which would logically translate to iPhones and iPads as properly.
The jobs had been posted in March and September 2011, respectively, but both are at the moment unfilled. They require a BS in a associated engineering discipline (electrical, mechanical or material science) and a handful of years’ expertise with 3-D CAD design and offshore item manufacturing. The capability to speak Chinese is “a plus.”
The 30-pin dock connector on iPhones, iPads and iPods has been the de facto design given that it was introduced on the third-generation iPod in 2003. That is practically as ancient as the click wheel style that debuted on the iPod in 2001.
“Apple has been making use of this connector for a extended time and it’s constantly gotten critiques as getting unwieldy and big and inconvenient,” IHS iSuppli analyst Kevin Keller told Wired. “If they’re going to introduce something new, the iPhone, due to the fact of the broad appeal and broad marketplace, would be a great spot to do it.”
Many feel — nay, count on — a dock connector redesign in the close to future. And with excellent reason.
Recent photos recommend the dock connector will be shrinking in size, allowing for a lot more space inside the device. Canalys analyst Chris Jones mentioned that when Apple does inevitably change its dock, it will be a pain point for accessory manufacturers and users who have invested in dock accessories. But some iPhone dock producers have started taking such a possibility into account with new styles aimed at future-proofing peripherals.
But Apple has a distinctive challenge when designing its iDevice dock connectors.
“Because Apple has used that connector for video output, audio output, USB connection, and charging, they are always going to have an concern with the pin count,” Keller stated. “You just merely cannot go down to a straightforward five-pin microUSB and get the same functionality out of that connector.”
An Apple patent application published in January tries to get around that problem in a creative way. It describes a MagSafe-style dock connector, not in contrast to the one particular at present employed in MacBooks. Considering that Apple has a design, these engineers could prepared a production version and coordinate with leads at Foxconn during the manufacturing approach.
Yet another choice open to Apple is to eventually make use of microUSB, the favorite of many Android phones and the closest point to a regular smartphone charging port we’ve noticed to date. Even though that implementation would be hassle-free for the majority of consumers, following the rest of the industry’s standards surely is not the Apple way. Nor does it satisfy Apple’s pre-existing dock connector needs.
“Because of the functionality Apple makes use of that dock connector for, there are no industry standards suitable however,” Keller stated. “They would continue to be essential to use a proprietary connector. We could see a smaller version of the existing dock connector, but still proprietary to Apple.”
That poses a unique challenge to Apple’s would-be connecter engineers and an even greater headache for accessory makers and Apple consumers.