Commentary

Getting entangled with cables in Apple's eco-system

How much longer will users need a multitude of cables to charge the Cupertino giant's devices?

Last week, Apple announced refreshed Beats headphones. The Solo3 Wireless got different paint jobs, while the Beats Studio 3 Wireless was updated with Apple's W1 chip for easy pairing with iOS devices and enhanced noise-cancellation.

However, one thing seems amiss. Both the updated Solo3 Wireless and Studio 3 Wireless models continue to use a micro-USB port for charging.

If you are wondering what is the problem here, let me explain.

Being someone etched into the Apple eco-system, I found myself having to carry different cables to charge all my Apple devices.

I have to carry a USB-C cable to charge my Touch Bar MacBook Pro, a Lightning cable to charge my iPhone 7 Plus and a micro-USB cable to charge my Beats Solo3 Wireless.

Being a back-up freak, I would take extra cables for each product. Thus, I have at least six cables with me whenever I travel. And don't get me started on adapters.

With Apple having bought Beats three years ago, one would think the Cupertino giant would have all Beats headphones outfitted with Lightning ports for charging.


PHOTO: ISTOCKPHOTO

Yet, except for the BeatsX Earphones, none of the other Beats headphones have done so.

Of course, I would have fewer cables to grapple with if I used the Apple AirPods, which needa Lightning cable to charge. But the pure wireless AirPods cannot connect to in-flight entertainment systems - a big downer for me.

By now, audiophiles must be looking down on me and thinking that my plight is well-deserved for choosing Beats (well, I do have a pair of Bose QuickComfort QC25 headphones). But that's not the point.

You would think that Apple, with its renowned attention to details, would have streamlined its products to use at least the same type of cable.

If BeatsX and the Beats Pill+ Speaker can use a Lightning port, wouldn't it make more sense for the refreshed Solo3 Wireless and Studio 3 Wireless to have a Lightning port too?

I know many consumers will think otherwise, as they probably have a drawer of micro-USB cables that they can use to charge their headphones, power banks and Android smartphones.

However, Apple has always been the "courageous" kind to embrace new technologies, as it did with the Touch Bar MacBook Pro by going all USB-C.

So I would have thought that Apple might have put the Lightning or USB-C port for its new Beats headphones, especially when it uses the Lightning port to charge its Apple Pencil, Magic Keyboard, Magic Mouse 2, Magic TrackPad 2… You get the idea.

Ironically, though, I have to admit to being worried about future iPhones switching to the USB-C port for charging and syncing. Ever since Apple switched to the Lightning port for iPhone 5 in 2012, I have amassed a whole arsenal of Lightning cables, adapters and chargers.

But five years is a long time in tech terms, and I would not be surprised if Apple decides to make a switch again. And I would really hate to see this Lightning collection go to waste if ever a future iPhone goes USB-C.

By the time this article is published, we might have a new iPhone announced.

Hopefully, my gripe does not turn out to be prophetic.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 13, 2017, with the headline 'Getting entangled with cables in Apple's eco-system'. Print Edition | Subscribe