USB 3.1 Type-C to feature smaller, reversible plugs

There will be a new type of USB plug that will hopefully solve most of the annoyances related to the ubiquitous data and power transfer cable. Taking a cue from Apple, the USB Implementers Forum (USB IF) has revealed a proposals for a Type-C connector that can be plugged in whichever way you like.

USB has emerged as the standard for transferring data or, lately, charging devices. The smaller micro-USB has also become common place in mobile devices, and soon a legal standard in the EU. Nevertheless, no one will probably deny how frustrating they are because of the shape of the plugs, which have to be inserted in the correct orientation. Apple has gone around this particular nuisance with its proprietary Lightning Connector which can be inserted upside-down or right side up.

The USB IF, which handles the USB specification, is proposing something slightly similar. While Apple's plug has the connectors facing outward and exposed, the new Type-C plug keeps them still facing inward. The difference now is that the plugs will no longer have that one-sided shape, rounding out the port so that it can be inserted in whatever direction without the user having to put much thought into it. Furthermore, the cable will be bi-directional, sporting the same type of plugs on each side. No more fumbling over which end to put in one device or another.

The USB Type-C plug has another feature which is both a boon and a bane. The plug has dimension of 8.3 mm x 2.5 mm. This makes it smaller than the usual full-sized USB port you'd find in computers. Unfortunately, it is also bigger than the current Micro-USB ports on mobile devices, which stand at 6.85 mm x 1.8 mm. So while the Type-C connector might save space on desktop, laptops, and larger devices, it will actually take up more room in smartphones and tablets. In an age when these devices are getting increasingly thinner, this might become a point of contention.

Whether this new Type-C plug will fly or if it will be yet another source of schism, only time will tell. The specification that includes the USB 3.1 Type-C proposal is expected to be done by July this year. The USB IF is expecting products to ship with support for the new connector by the end of the year. It is likely that we will see devices such as laptops that support both new and old standards for a while. Support on mobile devices might take even longer.

VIA: Android Community