Like The Verge’s Chris Welch, I instinctively responded to reports that Apple may be about to release an iPad Pro that ditches its Lightning port for USB-C with skepticism. I figured that the reality might be that the company plans to put a hybrid charger–with USB-C on the plug end, and Lightning on the iPad end–in the box. That’s a scenario that some of us already accomplish by buying the brick and cable separately, and it allows for faster charging than the standard iPad Pro cable and adapter.
But that’s not what analyst Ming-Chi Kuo–one of the more reliable seers in Appleland–is predicting. He clearly states that Lightning will go away on the next iPad Pro–which might might be announced as soon as Wednesday–in favor of USB-C. Let’s try to figure out why Apple might be ready to make this move:
Cable consistency. If you’ve got a USB-C MacBook and an iPad Pro, you might well appreciate the ability to charge them both using the same apparatus. Then again, if you’ve got an iPhone and a current iPad Pro, it’s nice that both have Lightning. And if you own a MacBook, an iPhone, and an iPad Pro, the port the iPad uses is pretty much a wash, which might make the shift to USB-C more effort than it’s worth.
External storage. An iPad Pro with USB-C might theoretically support storage drives of either the hard or flash varieties, which could be handy for backups, moving files around, or simply keeping your tablet useful after you’ve maxed out its internal space. Then again, none of this would work unless iOS was also equipped to deal with external files other than photos. I haven’t heard of any evidence that it’s about to get that capability.
Other peripheral possibilities. Eventually, almost anything in computing that involves a cabled connection will be supported by USB-C. But right now, scenarios such as plugging in an external keyboard and/or mouse seem either unlikely or like snoozers.
A general desire to be more computer-y. Apple has long pitched the iPad Pro as being at least as powerful as a laptop. Is that an argument in itself for the iPad Pro having USB-C?
As enthusiastic as I am about the potential for USB-C to someday be the only sort of cable any technophile needs, I can’t quite come up with an explanation for why the iPad Pro needs it right now. If Kuo’s scuttlebutt pans out–on Wednesday or any other day–I’ll be intrigued to see if Apple makes the case better than I can.