The price of the novelty: new MacBooks are suffering from disorder in the world of USB-C accessories

USB-C it is the future, they say. It’s faster, simpler, more durable, they say. They are probably not lying, but the future is, unfortunately, just the future – becoming.

At present, things are not so beautiful. Owners of devices equipped with the new version of the ubiquitous interface (nominally, the MacBook with Retina display and some smartphones on the Android side) are suffering from an absolutely unruly market, full of cables and accessories with lying specifications – and potentially dangerous.

There have been many cases of people literally frying their fabulous new computers or phones because of a poor quality cable, which would be an extreme consequence, but countless other stories of damage caused by USB-C accessories, to a greater or lesser extent , are popping up over the internet. Was it the USB apocalypse?

First, it is good to explain the cause (more common, at least) of these problems. It all lies in the fact that the USB-C interface is capable of transferring data and power at very high rates – many times, much higher than the equipment itself is capable of receiving. Some less “serious” manufacturers have not been totally rigorous in their process of making and identifying cables, or, in other words, they are selling cat in a poke: putting on a cute package with seemingly reliable information, and an absolutely poorly made and dangerous product .

Some manufacturers, for example, produce USB-C to USB-A cables (the old version, which we are all used to, of the port) and “forget” to limit transfer rates according to the capacity of the older generation ; the result is obviously not cool. Others make USB-C to USB-C cables using internal components of the USB-A version, which also produces disastrous results.

At this point, you may be wondering: but the cable market hasn’t always been a mess dominated by manufacturers xing-ling whose last concern is the quality and durability of your products? Elementary, my dear Watsons: yes, of course! However, until the advent of USB-C, the USB interface was not able to transfer energy at a potentially destructive rate; therefore, cases of devices destroyed by cables and chargers – although they have always existed – were much less common.

Fortunately, there is hope: a few months ago, the USB-IF announced the launch of a protocol for specifying authenticity for USB-C cables. With it, computers, smartphones and other devices equipped with the input will be able to confirm the authenticity of the connected accessory through 128-bit encrypted communication. For the commission to certify a particular cable or accessory, it must follow a series of standards and specifications in order to guarantee maximum safety in operation.

Apple - Lightning Cable to USB-C

Apple USB-C Lightning Cable

This protocol also has an additional advantage, in which it will also be possible for each user to specify what type of accessory can be connected to the equipment’s USB-C port – for example, a company can limit the recognition of connections only to devices marked as trusted.

The downside is that the protocol is still under development and no one knows exactly when it will actually take action. In addition, it is important to remember that while devices equipped with USB-C may receive a software update to use the certificate, cables and chargers already launched on the market are out of the party, which possibly will require everyone to change all their accessories. when the protocol is launched. Until then, Benson Leung (Google employee) will have to continue his arduous – and heroic – task of testing, model by model, the USB-C cables to classify the good and the bad.

And what about the MacBook?

You can argue that everything I’ve said so far doesn’t matter much to MacBook owners, since they all received a perfectly capable and secure USB-C cable from Apple in the box. Well, first of all, it is not so simple: cables are lost, broken, committed suicide, and many people are not willing to spend money to replace them with other originals. Just look at the iPhone and the growing (and more creative) market for alternative Lightning cables.

USB-C port of new MacBooks

The problem, however, goes much deeper than that. As this article notes, 9to5Mac, the final USB-C specifications were only finalized after the launch of the first MacBook with Retina display in 2015. Apple updated the computer software, its own USB-C accessories and even made a recall of some defective cables, but the rain of incompatibility of third-party accessories – especially with the 2016 version of the MacBook, already following the final specifications of the new interface – remains.

For example: external batteries for the 2015 version of the Apple laptop do not work on the 2016 model because the latest requires accessories of at least 18W (while its predecessor accepted any external battery starting at 5W). Connecting MacBooks to 4K monitors via USB-C is also more utopian than anything else, with a tiny range of compatible monitors and profusion compatibility issues.

Things, after all, are not as beautiful as Apple would like them to be. It is good to remember that, however, USB-C is not going away anytime soon; on the contrary, it is just beginning. The next MacBook Pro, for example, is expected to come with some ports of this type – even Thunderbolt 3 now uses the connector.

This is the marvel of technology: it matures and becomes almost natural over time. I do not doubt that it will be so with USB-C, but, in the meantime of doubts and uncertainties, I only leave two recommendations for you: use sunscreen and only buy cables and accessories from recognized brands.