Another change to the USB format is coming, and the good news isn’t just that it will move data faster, but that it will also be next to impossible to plug in the wrong way.
It’s an addition to the USB 3.0 format most laptops now have, commonly seen with the blue USB connector, though not all devices follow that standard design (Apple doesn’t, for instance, keeping them black, and Dell occasionally keeps them black, too).
In fact, the addition is to a newer version of USB called USB 3.1 that aims to bring speeds of up to 10Gbps to the USB standard, potentially making USB as fast as Apple and Intel’s Thunderbolt, though with possibly more compatibility since USB is, well, everywhere.
The USB consortium tells us that it will work with existing USB 3.0 software and hubs, making it backwards compatible, but that newer USB 3.1 certified gear will get those uber-high speeds, which should make the impatient people a little happier.
There’s also the matter of a new plug port that will be coming, because while USB is likely to keep that big connector we all use, a smaller micro plug is also coming, likely in the form of a replacement for the microUSB that most mobile phones around the world and some tablets use.
That’s the new plug that the USB consortium is talking up, with the Type-C connector being built with a similar size to the current USB 2.0 microUSB out in the world today. The new plug will also support the new speeds, which means 4K recordings from your new smartphone will be able to moved more quickly, and will be reversible.
A reversible plug means you can’t plug it in the wrong way, making it much harder to jam the ports of your device if you accidentally try forcing the plug in the wrong way, and is similar to Apple’s Lightning plug introduced with the iPhone 5.
“While USB technology is well established as the favoured choice for connecting and powering devices, we recognise the need to develop a new connector to meet evolving design trends in terms of size and usability,” said USB’s Brad Saunders.
“The new Type-C connector will fit well with the market’s direction and affords an opportunity to lay a foundation for future versions of USB.”
You devices, though, are safe from an unexpected plug port upgrade for the moment, and you shouldn’t expect the new plug port until mid-2014.