Bits & Bytes: Apple iPhone 5 port change will render older accessories obsolete
BY ROBERT EVATT World Staff Writer
Sunday, July 29, 2012
7/29/12 at 3:38 AM
It's looking like a design change in the iPhone 5 might cause some people some real frustration.
Oh sure, in the run-up to the inevitable release the tech world flips out over things like "the screen might be 3 percent bigger!" or "Siri can now understand people with a Belgian accent!"
Yet when these features actually come out, life will continue pretty much like normal.
Although the news that the smartphone will have a new 19-pin port instead of the familiar 30-pin port may sound tremendously boring - it's just a slightly differently shaped thing to stick in your phone when you want to charge or swap data - it has the consequence of making all the past iPhone and iPod accessories completely incompatible.
And there are a lot of accessories. Beceause the iPhone is the best-selling single model of phone by far and the plug is shared by the iPod, plenty of companies have made speaker systems, battery packs, car chargers, docks and more over the years.
I've got two speaker systems and a battery pack that I won't be able to use anymore when I upgrade to the 5. They're great pieces of equipment, but I may as well chuck them in the recycling bin once the new phone arrives.
It's annoying. It's expensive. And it's a part of technological advancement we've managed to avoid for quite a while.
Apple unveiled the 30-pin port back in 2003 with the third-generation iPod. It worked great for transferring music back and forth from a computer to the device, so the company stuck with it when the data-intensive smartphones showed up.
It's a technology that's nearly a decade old and might be due for replacement. The new dock just might be better. At the very least it's smaller and might allow Apple to make some interesting design changes for the iPhone 5.
Then again, every other phone maker has finally abandoned all those odd-looking and incompatible power jacks and data ports in favor of using mini-USB ports. They seem to work fine, and the cords are very easy to find and replace.
Why is Apple different? Because it can be.
Apple's way of thinking differently resulted in the iPhone and kicked off the whole smartphone revolution in the first place. Of course, its different dongles also tend to be sold for a premium, and the company helps encourage people to stick with Apple products.
Longtime Apple fans are used to having to adapt to the company's whims. Sure, there are a lot more Apple users now that the iPhone is here, but annoying as the port switch is, I doubt that it will have much of an effect on sales of the new phone.
App of the week: Amazing Alex (iOS, Android)
After riding the monster success of Angry Birds for a couple of years, Rovio's finally released a bird-free game. The titular Alex is apparently a descendant of Rube Goldberg, as he tries to do simple tasks like land balls in baskets, pop balloons and knock objects over in the most complicated way possible.
To do that, you'll have to position various objects in just the right way so that Alex can accomplish these tasks when you turn the physics on and let things move. It's simple and fun, but not nearly as weirdly charming or addictive as Angry Birds.
Rovio, 99 cents
Suggest an app for App of the Week at firstname.lastname@example.org
Original Print Headline: IPhone 5 upgrade to have added costs
BBC's app for news from London Olympics pulled from iOS app store
I wrote last week that, out of all the Olympics news apps out there, my favorite was the one put out by the BBC. Unfortunately it looks like the app has been pulled from the iOS app store. My copy of the app still seems to work, but that doesn't help anyone who hasn't already downloaded it.
I haven't been able to find a reason why it's been pulled, though my guess is that NBC complained because they have the U.S. broadcast rights to the Olympics.
Adding insult to injury is the fact that NBC's app is, as of a few days ago, still a stuttering mess that refused to load videos reliably for me.
A design change in the iPhone 5, going from a 30-pin port to a 19-pin version, will make many iPhone and iPod accessories obsolete. PRNewsFoto