Apple will begin allowing accessory manufacturers to include Lightning ports in their MFi accessories. While the Lightning port has been in use in Apple’s devices since the iPhone 5, third-party accessory makers have not as yet been allowed to include the port in their products.
Allowing accessory makers to build-in a Lightning port provides a number of benefits, according to manufacturers briefed during Apple’s MFi Summit. One of the biggest benefits is to reduce costs for manufacturers and simplify the product experience for users by using Lightning to provide power to both an accessory and the iOS device. Dock or battery case manufacturers, for example, would previously have to provide a separate USB cable and power supply to charge an accessory.
The move will allow makers of battery cases, for example, to use the Apple Lightning cable to charge the case, removing the need to carry an extra micro-USB cable for charging the case.
Apple is also said to be developing a new “slimmed down, low profile version” of the Lightning connector currently in use by third party accessories such as docks and charging cases. The new package will offer a simpler and more compact method for building the connectors into the products.
The Lightning port could also come in handy for use with Apple’s new MFi Lightning headphone specs. The new specs will allow accessory makers to build headphones using a Lightning connector in the place of the traditional 3.5mm headphone jack. Such a connection could possibly allow simultaneous charging and listening of the headphones via a single Lightning cable.
Apple plans to begin shipping the new Lightning connector and receptacle to accessory makers in early 2015.