Science and Tech


Reversible USB Is Here, But Is It As Convenient As We Hoped?

The USB Implementers Forum, responsible for USB technology, has finally approved the design of a reversible USB connector.
Posted at 9:38 AM, Aug 13, 2014

It's the moment we've all been waiting for. 

According to the USB Implementers Forum, or USB-IF, we won't have to struggle with plugging in those pesky USB cables much longer.

And that's because we're finally getting a reversible USB cable. Say hello to the USB 3.1 Type-C connector. The USB-IF says the finalized design is part of its "single cable solution." Along with transfer speeds of up to 10 Gbps and 100W of power — enough for charging laptops — USB-IF hopes its new Type-C connector will be thin and sleek enough to become the standard cable for all our gadgets and gizmos.

Now, before you go grab your scissors and show that pesky USB 2.0 cable who's boss, there are two small things keeping the tech press from getting overly excited about the new connector.

"As device makers transition to the Type-C spec," says a writer for GigaOM, "we'll be buying adapters and unique cables to use new and old USB devices together."

And ExtremeTech, which calls the new connector "the greatest invention in the known universe," reminds us it might take awhile for Type-C to become standard.

"Further exacerbating the issue is the fact that China, the EU, and the GSMA have all agreed that new mobile devices use Micro-USB for charging."

This agreement has been in place since as early as 2009, when several mobile device manufacturers signed a "Memorandum of Understanding" promising compatibility with Micro-USB.

The problem is — much like the initial uproar surrounding the introduction of Apple's Lightning cable — no one's too keen on going out and buying adapters or new devices.

Still, we'd have to argue a life free of USB-provoked frustrations might be worth that adapter. And better yet, the USB-IF says it's designed the cable to be future proof, capable of handling faster speeds as the technology improves.

This video includes images from Getty Images and the USB Implementers Forum.