Apple: Could Lightning be destined for the Mac?


Today I purchased the Apple Lightning SD Card Adapter to test using GH4 footage in iMovie for iOS (with the hopes to buy an iPad Pro for doing simple edits on the road – that’s the subject for another day).

Sitting here with my adapters and iOS devices a thought niggled at my mind. Lightning is a small connector, and anyone in the iOS ecosystem will have some amount of dongles or adapters. It stands to reason then, perhaps, that with the rumours of Apple dropping the headphone socket on the iPhone in favour of Bluetooth or Lightning headphones that maybe future Macs will begin to ship with Lightning on board.

Initially I dismissed this as too ludicrous and pointless. But thinking now, it is starting to appear logical. USB-C peripherals are still thin on the ground, but what if the ultra-thin MacBook had a Lightning instead of a headphone jack on the right hand side? Lightning could adapt to give it a USB 3 port, an SD card reader, a HDMI out or any of the other lightning peripherals that exist, as well as offering the ability to (via a lighting>lighting cable) to charge the Magic Mouse, Trackpad and Keyboard. The added bonus – all of these peripherals will work with your iPhone, your iPad or your iPod touch as well, and there’s a chance you already have some of these adapters living in drawers right now.

Whilst I’m not suggesting this is a good or even a smart move (Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C are both obviously better catch-all sockets), for Apple and their ecosystem (and the old Halo effect) the benefits of lightning are perhaps too logical to refute. If the new MacBook Pro sports 4 USB-C/TB3 and a single Lightning, it’s not exactly going to be intrusive. It could easily have two. The port is thin enough and small enough that on a laptop they’ll fit virtually anywhere. Plus Lightning adapters are cheap and fairly easy to come by, and they do the job they’re designed to do. Are there yet any USB-C SD card adapters? Or do you need to carry a USB-A dongle and a card reader?

This almost makes the idea of a Lightning>3.5″ dongle less offensive. If your laptop, iPhone and iPad all use the same socket, the dongle would never have to be disconnected from your headphones. A bit of electrical tape and it’s virtually a permanent part of the hardware.

Whilst I’m a proponent of wireless headphones (if I can ever find my proprietary charge cable…grr) and I really REALLY hope Apple ship Bluetooth earbuds in the box with iPhone 7, the idea of Lightning finding its way into Macs could have a root in some sort of logic.

So I sit here with a Lightning SD adapter, Lightning HDMI adapter and Lightning USB adapter and think about how much more use these adapters would get if they could plug into my MacBook Pro, or my partner’s MacBook, and then I wonder if that’s not a possibility in the near future.


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