The United States Patent department today granted Apple a patent for charging peripheral devices, this is expected to refer to the next-generation iPhone.
Titled, Power Adaptors for Powering And/Or Charging Peripheral Devices, the new patent No. 8222773 describes a new type of power port that also transfers data. It has been rumoured for a while that Apple will be introducing a new type of power port on the iPhone 5.
According to an image accompanying the patent, it appears superficially more similar to the original Firewire 400 connection, the port is rectangular in shape with a triangular edge to ensure that the connection is made the right way. Although it should be noted that Apple patent images rarely match the actual style of the end design.
The abstract reads:
A power adapter for a peripheral device such as portable electronics device is disclosed. The power adapter includes a housing that contains electrical components associated with the power adapter. The power adapter also includes a data port provided at a surface of the housing. The data port is configured to provide external power to the peripheral device.
The patent Description mentions the desire to reduce the size of the device:
It would be desirable to remove the total number of connections made to a peripheral device so as to reduce the number of connectors and cables needed to operate the peripheral device. By reducing the number of connectors and cables, the peripheral size and the cost of the product may be decreased as well as the ease of use of the peripheral device may be improved (less cables to tote around).
This could indicate that Apple is looking to reduce the overall size of the iPhone (as well as other iOS devices). It could also indicate continued attempts by Apple to reduce the size of device components to increase the space available to the battery. It is possible that it could enable the larger batteries to charge faster (a problem that will grow as batteries become larger and power requirements more demanding).
While a new type of power dock would not seem to be a major deal, Apple has been using the Dock Connector for many devices for a number of years, so much so that it almost feels like a standard in itself. It will be a shame to no longer be able to use all the original iDevice cables that we've acquired over the years.
Apple is often keen to push forward with new technology, and it looks like we may have to get used to a new kind of connection.