At Apple’s event last Monday, attendees got first look at the much-talked-about Apple iWatch, which is capable of an 18-hour battery life depending on how people use it.
There was also the announcement of HBO as a stand-alone service to users of Apple TV, which is an exclusive deal between the two companies. Apple CEO took the opportunity to announce the deal by showing the trailer for the latest season of Game of Thrones.
Surely these announcements served as the source for plenty of excitement for all who eagerly await the next steps in Apple’s offerings, but there was another unveiling that seems to have overshadowed even iWatch: the newest edition of the MacBook.
Sure, plenty of us marveled at the fact that this $1,299 MacBook is only 13.1 centimeters thick, or that it weighs in at just two pounds, features a 12-inch retina display, and has an overall new design that allows for 35% more battery space.
But the real talk has been focused around how the new MacBook features only two ports – one 1/8” jack for headphones, and mostly notably, one USB-C port.
Just what is USB-C? You may not be familiar yet, but it’s big enough to Apple that they essentially cleaned house on the new machine, leaving just one port to power devices, hook up external hard drives…and pretty much everything else.
A little background on USB-C
USB is nothing new. But like all technologies, new versions roll out over time. If you have held onto any laptop within the past 5-10 years, you have seen USB 2.0 or 3.0. They have covered the sides of your laptop in various shapes, and all ports have serves various purposes from Ethernet connections, to HDMI, and more.
USB-C is version 3.1 of USB, and what differentiates 3.1 from the others is that there is only one port for everything, removing the necessity to have several on one machine. Companies other than Apple have already delved into the world of 3.1, with a notable example being Belkin unveiling a series of USB-C cables just last week.
So what is the advantage of USB-C?
While it may seem bizarre that Apple only but one USB-C port on the entire MacBook, minimalism is exactly what they are going for with this new version. That is, it is being geared toward the casual user who doesn’t feel that he or she needs more than the necessities.
USB-C has several advantages – one of the most notable being its size. USB-C fits not only on the 13.1 centimeter-thick MacBook, but is also capable of fitting on all kind of smartphones and tablets. In fact, some see Apple including USB-C on the new MacBook as a sort of foreshadowing of what is to come for future devices.
Another advantage of USB-C is the power and data transfer rate that it is capable of carrying. At 100 watts of power, all kinds of devices can be charged directly from the port. With a data transfer rate of 10 Gbps, USB-C expands the profile of secondary monitors that can be run off of it, as well as SSDs and more.
Other than the minimalist quality that Apple continues to strive for, just having one USB-C port will serve as a source of frustration for many users. Just as the Cupertino company proves time and time again, they absolutely love making users pay extra money for extra accessories.
The one port on the MacBook has already given rise to an AV Multiport Adapter, going for a cool price of $79 each. And just as Belkin has demonstrated with their own lineup of USB-C cables, there are plenty of reasons to expect plenty of other companies getting involved with USB-C-related technologies as well.
If you think Apple is the pioneer of USB-C, with some new sources mentioning that they are the partial inventors of the technology, don’t give them the credit just yet. The Chromebook Pixel, which was recently unveiled, actually has two USB-C ports with one on each side. Apparently Apple just wasn’t feeling as generous.