Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 1st Nov 2016 22:04 UTC
Hardware, Embedded Systems

Did you buy the new MacBook or MacBook Pro? Maybe the Google Pixel? You're about to enter a world of confusion thanks to those new USB-C" ports. See, that simple-looking port hides a world of complexity, and the (thankful) backward-compatibility uses different kinds of cables for different tasks. Shoppers have to be very careful to buy exactly the right cable for their devices!

Welcome to the dongle.

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It will get better
by sukru on Wed 2nd Nov 2016 08:57 UTC
sukru
Member since:
2006-11-19

It will get better, but it looks like it will get a bit worse first.

We'll need to educate users, and also manufacturers. Fortunately the really terrible off-spec cable issue was fixed after little effort, and many people now try to make sure the cable actually works before buying them. (One advantage of lightning was that Apple certified the cable, so there were no broken ones, except for manufacturing errors).

Then it is possible to carry power on the cable, in both ways. This is an extension of USB-OTG where the phone could be a host device. Now it can be a host for power, and can actually charge your portable powerbank, instead of other way around. (You'll need to check, as the user, which device is charging the other).

And now we'll have HDMI, DP, and Audio (two different specs) over the same port. And they require dedicated hardware. USB 3 ports were labelled blue, and some MBs color high sample rate mouse ports red. We might have a similar notation for a/v ports. (But I would rather have a full size HDMI and real 3.5 audio ports, but that's another discussion).

Overall we'll probably adapt and learn to live with the new technology. We have done this several times (Mini USB -> Micro USB -> Special MHL/HDMI/AV ports, miniDP, etc). We can do it once again.

Edited 2016-11-02 08:57 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE: It will get better
by ssokolow on Wed 2nd Nov 2016 09:49 in reply to "It will get better"
ssokolow Member since:
2010-01-21

Overall we'll probably adapt and learn to live with the new technology. We have done this several times (Mini USB -> Micro USB -> Special MHL/HDMI/AV ports, miniDP, etc). We can do it once again.


Some people have.

I adopted USB 1.1 as soon as I could and things like Mini USB and Micro USB didn't really bother me, but I've basically been sitting out the entire smartphone boom while I wait for the ecosystem to stabilize on certain details I consider non-negotiable:

1. A physical keyboard or something else with suitably equivalent finger-alignment and keypress feedback.

2. Removable storage (A MicroSD slot or equivalent)

3. A non-proprietary way to simultaneously hook up power input, USB devices, wired audio output, and wired video output when at a desk or table.

4. Dongle-less, non-proprietary, non-wireless headphone connectivity when out and about.

5. An unlocked bootloader and fully open-source OS with a software ecosystem that isn't trying to nickel-and-dime me or sell me as a product.

(Currently, since I can't justify the exhorbitant Canadian mobile data rates anyway, I just carry a pocketable Linux laptop and/or my trusty old Sony PRS-505 eReader.)

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[2]: It will get better
by Gargyle on Wed 2nd Nov 2016 13:10 in reply to "RE: It will get better"
Gargyle Member since:
2015-03-27

I think you can keep on waiting for that until the earth is engorged by the red giant that was once our sun in about five billion years.

In the meantime try to invent immortality; you are going to need it to survive all the waiting.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE: It will get better
by chrish on Wed 2nd Nov 2016 11:28 in reply to "It will get better"
chrish Member since:
2005-07-14

We'll need to educate users


Aaaaand we've failed before we started. Users expect everything with the same plug to work the same; this is going to be yet another tech support burden on the family member/friend who "knows computers".

I'm not saying existing USB isn't a shit-show, I'm just saying Thunderbolt/Lightning/USB-C/etc./etc./etc. hasn't made things better.

Reply Parent Score: 4

RE[2]: It will get better
by darknexus on Wed 2nd Nov 2016 12:27 in reply to "RE: It will get better"
darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

To be fair, I've yet to encounter any confusion with Lightning cables or accessories. If it's a Lightning connector, it works as it should unless it's defective. It's one reason I didn't mind the transition away from the old 30-pin dock connectors, where this kind of confusion between cables and accessories (particularly the charging pins) was getting crazy. Now it appears we're back to the shit show with USB C. Damn!

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE: It will get better
by ahferroin7 on Wed 2nd Nov 2016 12:24 in reply to "It will get better"
ahferroin7 Member since:
2015-10-30

Then it is possible to carry power on the cable, in both ways. This is an extension of USB-OTG where the phone could be a host device. Now it can be a host for power, and can actually charge your portable powerbank, instead of other way around. (You'll need to check, as the user, which device is charging the other).


I'm curious if you've ever actually looked at a phone that can do this. Anything Android 6.0 or newer (unless the manufacturer changes it) defaults to drawing power over the cable (and only drawing power, no data connection other than possibly negotiating the power draw) until you manually tell it to do anything else (you get a nice notification that you tap to pop up a menu to switch things). In other words, at least for Android, this is a non-issue.

At least for me though, even if it was an issue, it would still be worth having a proper USB host in the phone (it's wonderful as an IT professional to be able to just carry around an USB Ethernet adapter for my phone to do network diagnostics and check cabling).

Reply Parent Score: 1