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Handset Vendors Plug Micro-USB Charge Ports

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the kicking-and-screaming-to-the-briar-patch dept.

Cellphones 363

ketan324 points to a Register story touting an agreement among several phone makers to settle on Micro USB for their phones' charging ports, writing "It's about time for these cellphone manufacturers to wise up and design a universal phone charger. Although many manufacturers have already 'standardized' to a mini-USB interface, there are many more out there who use proprietary adapters. I wonder how Apple will feel about this? Will they finally realize that their oh-so-special adapter is nothing more than a fudged USB interface?" No legislation required.

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And why the hell do I need a driver for this? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26888561)

I have working USB on my computer. Why the hell do I need to install a Motorola XP driver to charge my RAZR?

Re:And why the hell do I need a driver for this? (5, Informative)

Ed Avis (5917) | more than 5 years ago | (#26888651)

Often the standard USB current isn't enough to charge a device, so you must install a driver which does nothing more than increase the USB power output.

Re:And why the hell do I need a driver for this? (5, Interesting)

damaki (997243) | more than 5 years ago | (#26889123)

Because that when the device is not identified by the OS, the power output is capped to 100mA. When identified, it can go up to 500mA.
The evident solution would be to use a standard passive driver.

Re:And why the hell do I need a driver for this? (1, Insightful)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 5 years ago | (#26889665)

My Best Buy/Insignia MP3 player doesn't have a driver, and yet it still manages to charge in every USB port I've ever tried - home PC, work PC, home laptop, even my LCD screen (which is a dumb gadget not attached to anything).

Re:And why the hell do I need a driver for this? (3, Interesting)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#26889177)

Nonsense. I have been able to charge both my previous phone (Motorola RAZR) and my current phone (LG Rumor) from my Ubuntu-powered PC, no drivers necessary. (Posted from my Rumor, BTW.)

Re:And why the hell do I need a driver for this? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26889323)

Yeah, and you don't have to install webcam drivers either. Linux (and Ubuntu especially) has put a lot of effort into making hardware compatibility automatic. MS has no stigma to worry about on this front, so they are unsurprisingly lagging behind in this ease of use comparison.

Re:And why the hell do I need a driver for this? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26889345)

If your phone identifies itself as a USB Storage device, it can raise the power without its own driver, since it is recognized by the USB mass storage driver.

Re:And why the hell do I need a driver for this? (1)

MiniMike (234881) | more than 5 years ago | (#26889369)

My Sprint RAZR also will not charge from a computer unless I install a driver. The driver is only for windows, it will not charge when connected to a Linux (Fedora, haven't tried charging on Ubuntu) machine. It also will not charge from generic wall plug to USB power converters, or from 12V to USB converters, only from the Motorola branded charger. Either Sprint or Motorola has screwed with these, or they had a revision or two that don't charge properly. They screwed with the USB and Bluetooth connectivity so they don't work properly, so I assumed they had done "something" to disable recharging over the USB port unless it finds something from Motorola providing the charge. Makes me want to drop Sprint and Motorola next time I look for a phone.

Re:And why the hell do I need a driver for this? (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#26889601)

If you don't want to drop your Sprint contract, dump the Motorola and get a Rumor. Rumor's don't support EVDO but they do use CDMA 3000.

Re:And why the hell do I need a driver for this? (1)

AnonGCB (1398517) | more than 5 years ago | (#26889403)

This sounds somewhat horribly wrong, mind sourcing this? I was under the impression that USB always output 5v, maximum of 500 mAmps.

Re:And why the hell do I need a driver for this? (5, Informative)

Why2K (29813) | more than 5 years ago | (#26889669)

From the USB standard, section 7.2.1 (emphasis mine):

A unit load is defined to be 100mA. The number of unit loads a device can draw is an absolute maximum, not an average over time. A device may be either low-power at one unit load or high-power, consuming up to five unit loads. All devices default to low-power. The transition to high-power is under software control. It is the responsibility of software to ensure adequate power is available before allowing devices to consume high-power.

Re:And why the hell do I need a driver for this? (0, Flamebait)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 5 years ago | (#26889529)

>>>Often the standard USB current isn't enough to charge

(cough) bullshit (ahem). 100 mA times 5 hours == fully-charged battery in my Nokia phone. You don't need a lot of current to charge these tiny batteries.

Re:And why the hell do I need a driver for this? (0)

wiredog (43288) | more than 5 years ago | (#26888673)

Voltages. The driver has to tell the computer what voltages it uses. It's from the USB spec,IIRC.

Re:And why the hell do I need a driver for this? (4, Informative)

corsec67 (627446) | more than 5 years ago | (#26888749)

Voltages. The driver has to tell the computer what voltages it uses. It's from the USB spec,IIRC.

No, USB Vcc is +5 volts.

Per the USB spec, the device isn't supposed to draw more than 100mA from the port without authorization from the computer.

Re:And why the hell do I need a driver for this? (3, Interesting)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 5 years ago | (#26889069)

Actually I worked for a company that made things that charge of USB once and I talked to the person who decided such things. He explained the "not allowed to draw more the 100mA before enumeration" rationale. I showed him my USB hard disk. It has two plugs, one of which is just to leach power, so it manages to draw 500mA from each plug. And actually most USB widgets are dumb - no microcontroller - and draw more than 100mA. And I've never seen them fail to work on any USB host.

I couldn't convince him to make the device charge without a driver though, even though enforcing the spec like this probably just pisses people off. Actually it's worse than that, there are wallwarts that supply 5V (often at 1000mA or more) to a USB connection but don't have a USB host. Devices that refuse to charge before enumeration won't work with those either.

Actually I think there's an argument for drawing power off the bus, and only limiting current such that the 5V line stays in spec, i.e 5V±5%. That way you could safely draw more than 500mA from a USB wallwart which could supply it but did not enumerate.

Re:And why the hell do I need a driver for this? (1)

Otto (17870) | more than 5 years ago | (#26889433)

Most USB devices I've seen will charge whenever they detect enough power on the line to allow them to do it. Like anything coming at them higher than 100mA triggers them into charge mode. This is because many self-powered hubs will throw 500mA at everything regardless of enumeration, so charging on-demand makes more sense. Of course, the driver is needed for a machine to kick out more than 100mA on a port, but not all ports require that, so it's best to charge whenever you can.

Re:And why the hell do I need a driver for this? (1)

ArhcAngel (247594) | more than 5 years ago | (#26889557)

This answers many of my questions like why my RIM BB wallwart with the female USB A connector will charge most of my gadgets but not my Ipod Touch. It also explains why my old BB 7320 didn't need a driver to charge and my Curve 8310 does.

Re:And why the hell do I need a driver for this? (1)

Rog-Mahal (1164607) | more than 5 years ago | (#26889195)

How would this work with a Linux machine? Would the inability to install the driver result in not being able to charge the phone?

Re:And why the hell do I need a driver for this? (4, Informative)

corsec67 (627446) | more than 5 years ago | (#26889311)

In Linux, it seems like the power negotiation is part of the USB driver, not the specific device driver, since every device should do that the same way.

(So, even if there is NO Linux driver, or with the driver not loaded, the power negotiations can occur)

Which is a good idea, really.

Re:And why the hell do I need a driver for this? (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26889513)

There will be an ioctl to the usb driver to control the power output... then some slashdot weenie will write a small gtk app with a slider you can dock on your tool bar to adjust the power output up and down, and then yet another group of slashdotters will put a wiki together documenting the correcet power settings for every cellphone ever made, even ones not capable of usb charging, just in case you wanted to mod your old motorola.

Re:And why the hell do I need a driver for this? (1)

chikanamakalaka (218733) | more than 5 years ago | (#26889321)

It works great on my Linux machine. Driver is already there.

Re:And why the hell do I need a driver for this? (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#26889341)

See my other post in this thread, but in a word, no. At least not on Ubuntu 7.04 and later.

Re:And why the hell do I need a driver for this? (2, Interesting)

corsec67 (627446) | more than 5 years ago | (#26888695)

Why the hell do I need to install a Motorola XP driver to charge my RAZR?

Maybe Windows leaves sending the "You can take up to 500mA" signal to the driver for the device?

Re:And why the hell do I need a driver for this? (2, Informative)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 5 years ago | (#26889553)

The USB device driver does a Set Configuration

And the max power (in specified in milliamps, freakin' software engineers) is part of the configuration descriptor.

http://www.beyondlogic.org/usbnutshell/usb5.htm#ConfigurationDescriptors [beyondlogic.org]

So the spec says you can draw upto 100mA until it gets a SET_CONFIGURATION request, and that is done by the device driver.

Re:And why the hell do I need a driver for this? (2, Informative)

jandrese (485) | more than 5 years ago | (#26888719)

Because of the way USB is designed. If your device does not get attached to a driver, it is stuck on low power mode, which is not sufficient for charging a phone. When a driver is attached, the driver can ramp the port up into high power mode and charge the phone. Often times if you know what you're doing you can avoid installing the whole "driver suite" and the crappy apps you don't want and instead just copy over a .dll file to let your computer charge the phone. Google is your friend in these cases.

Voltage and current (1)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 5 years ago | (#26889031)

Because of the way USB is designed. If your device does not get attached to a driver, it is stuck on low power mode, which is not sufficient for charging a phone. When a driver is attached, the driver can ramp the port up into high power mode and charge the phone.

I take it this means that if I have a USB hub then my cell phone is always on low power charge mode. Otherwise I don't see how a computer could decide how much current to supply when multiple devices are attached in parallel via a hub.

So charging times must be dramatically reduced if I use a direct connection to the computer USB port rather than indierectly through a hub?

A second question is, why don't devices supply their own drivers when you plug them in?

Re:Voltage and current (1)

DrLang21 (900992) | more than 5 years ago | (#26889185)

The device's USB descriptors that are sent to the computer when a device is attached should tell the computer how much current it can be allocated. If your USB hub is externally powered, then current allocation shouldn't be an issue. If your hub is port powered, then your devices are automatically limited.

Re:Voltage and current (3, Insightful)

Otto (17870) | more than 5 years ago | (#26889319)

I take it this means that if I have a USB hub then my cell phone is always on low power charge mode. Otherwise I don't see how a computer could decide how much current to supply when multiple devices are attached in parallel via a hub.

USB hubs are more than mere wiring, they have to have some minor amount of intelligence. There's two basic kinds of hubs: bus-powered and self-powered. Self-powered hubs have a separate power source (wall outlet, etc) and are allowed to provide up to 500 mA to devices connecting to them, which is the same as the high-power mode for normal USB ports. This allows those devices to charge. Bus-powered hubs can't do this, they're basically limited to the amount of power they get from the USB port itself.

A second question is, why don't devices supply their own drivers when you plug them in?

Because that's not possible in the USB specification. The "no-driver" devices really use a default set of drivers that have their characteristics predefined in the USB specs.

Also, it's a bit of a security risk for a device to be able to send executable code to the PC and actually have it get executed.

Re:Voltage and current (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26889561)

Interesting, so should it be possible, in principle, to take a self-powered USB hub, plug it into the wall without plugging it into a computer and use it as a charger for something that charges via USB?
It never occurred to me to try it.

Re:Voltage and current (1)

compro01 (777531) | more than 5 years ago | (#26889653)

No, an unpowered hub is a single device as far as electricity is concerned, but it's multiple devices according to the software. Everything plugged into the hub would be limited to 500mA total. If you only have one device on the hub, it's functionally identical to having it directly connect, aside from some small amount taken by the hub's electronics, but if you had, say, 4 devices plugged into the hub, they would need to keep their draw below 500mA combined. if 2 of those both tried drawing 300mA at the same time, it probably wouldn't work.

As for the driver, how is the device going to communicate with the system to provide the driver unless a driver is already installed? It's a chicken-egg loop. Obvious solution would be to have a generic basic driver (like the now ubiquitous USB mass storage driver used for flash drives) to would allow for driver acquisition from the device, but you'd first need to standardize that and then get that driver implemented and widely distributed.

Re:And why the hell do I need a driver for this? (1)

compro01 (777531) | more than 5 years ago | (#26889271)

This seems to be a case of de facto functionality, as I have numerous such things that will draw more than the 100mA limit, like my laptop's cooling pad, which draws about 400mA, and the data lines on that are just left open, so there's definitely no driver getting involved.

Re:And why the hell do I need a driver for this? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26889611)

Because of the way Microsoft's USB stack is designed. If your device does not get attached to a driver, it is stuck on low power mode, which is not sufficient for charging a phone.

There, fixed that for ya.

USB RFC standards lay out the process for increasing output current of a USB port, which should be a passive process. The USB device must simply apply a specific resistance across the USB pins to 'ask' the USB port to go into 'high power' mode. Whether the hardware or software vendor complies is a different story, but I've never had an issue charging high-power USB devices in linux.

Re:And why the hell do I need a driver for this? (1)

DirtySouthAfrican (984664) | more than 5 years ago | (#26888777)

Weird. I plugged my KRZR into my monitor and it charged just fine. Only later did I install drivers to get mass storage to work.

Re:And why the hell do I need a driver for this? (1)

Otto (17870) | more than 5 years ago | (#26889353)

Your monitor has a self-powered USB hub built into it, and the phone is designed to charge whenever it has enough power coming to it. The monitor gives it that much, so it charges, no drivers needed.

A USB port on the computer acts differently than a port on a hub.

Re:And why the hell do I need a driver for this? (1)

denis-The-menace (471988) | more than 5 years ago | (#26889391)

I did this with my KRZR K1m and it recognized it as a KRZR and about 1 minute later it started to charge.

No Data, though. (Another battle for later...)

Re:And why the hell do I need a driver for this? (5, Funny)

swillden (191260) | more than 5 years ago | (#26889159)

I have working USB on my computer. Why the hell do I need to install a Motorola XP driver to charge my RAZR?

Because Windows sucks.

You didn't expect a different answer from slashdot, did you? ;-)

Re:And why the hell do I need a driver for this? (1)

Yetihehe (971185) | more than 5 years ago | (#26889227)

You don't need driver on linux. On the same laptop on windows - razr needs driver. On linux - just works. (it's only for charging though, I didn't even tried syncing).

Frosty Pistoon! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26888565)

Get the monkey out of the White House and launch your very own frosty pistoons today!

Re:Frosty Pistoon! (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 5 years ago | (#26888789)

Um, we did, and at this time he's probably already back in Crawford.

Re:Frosty Pistoon! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26889039)

Funny. Looks like we replaced one monkey with another. And this one is hell-bent on flinging shit at the economy.

Yay! (3, Insightful)

Nerdposeur (910128) | more than 5 years ago | (#26888571)

About time.

Sony and Apple (1)

telchine (719345) | more than 5 years ago | (#26889441)

I'm suprised Sony have backed it. Not at all suprised that Apple haven't!

data, audio, and power (2, Insightful)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 5 years ago | (#26888637)

cell phone cables need to be able to support digital data, power and analog multi-channel audio input(microphones) and output (speakers). Some also need to support RGB or S-video out

USB can do the first two. I may be mistaken but I don't think that USB can support those analog channels.

So the connectors are not "oh so special" they are actually accomodating what is needed.

If you want a minimalist approach of having a single docking connector then you need to have all that functionality.

the alternative is to have a lot of different input/output ports or even mulitle ways of doing it.

For my simple cell phone, I say yes! all I want is a USB charger so I can charge it off my laptop with any available cable. That's great. But for people with those uber-phones well USB is not going to hack it so it is kind of silly to complain.

Re:data, audio, and power (1)

residieu (577863) | more than 5 years ago | (#26888713)

iPhones don't need RGB or S-Video, so no, they're connectors don't need to be anything other than USB. Audio input and output do not (or at least should not) use the same plug as power/data (otherwise you can't charge your phone and use the headset at the same time).

Re:data, audio, and power (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26888881)

iPhones don't need RGB or S-Video

Some ipods have video out. DOn't know specifically about the iphone but I assume it probably does too. And if not maybe some future one will and they don't want to change the connector (and thereby break all the existing docks)

Re:data, audio, and power (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26888901)

the iPhone has headphone out and line out. The line out is demanded by many people. Additionally, the iPhone/iPod series can be controlled remotely, via a bus that is exposed through the dock connector. There is much more going on through their dock connector than can be handled by USB + headphone/microphone jack. They do also provide RGB and S-Video output, so yes, they need those. Additionally, the dock connector sustains the physical abuse of constant exposure to all sorts of crap.

Re:data, audio, and power (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 5 years ago | (#26888965)

iPhones don't need RGB or S-Video, so no, they're connectors don't need to be anything other than USB. Audio input and output do not (or at least should not) use the same plug as power/data (otherwise you can't charge your phone and use the headset at the same time).

iPhones have a video out, and line level audio I/O, and you can't run that through your headphone amp and mic preamps without some significant changes and additional noise.

Re:data, audio, and power (1)

jonnythan (79727) | more than 5 years ago | (#26889001)

iPods do have analog video out and analog stereo L/R line out on their connectors. I rely on these, as it allows me to plug one cable into my iPod to both charge and listen to it in the car. And it allows me to drop my iPod into a dock and have it play audio and video through my system or the dock's built-in speakers/screen without having to attach multiple cables.

These cannot be handled by USB.

Re:data, audio, and power (4, Informative)

nine-times (778537) | more than 5 years ago | (#26889101)

iPhones don't need RGB or S-Video

They do if you have movies on them, and want to output those movies onto a TV screen. People probably don't do that very often, but you can do that.

Audio input and output do not (or at least should not) use the same plug as power/data (otherwise you can't charge your phone and use the headset at the same time).

iPods and iPhones have 2 different audio outs-- one being the headphone jack, which on the iPhone can also be used for headsets. So you can use that headphone jack while charging. The other audio out is in the dock connector, and it makes it so you can drop the iPhone into the dock and have the dock connect to a stereo. If not for that audio out, you'd have to drop it into the dock and then plug an additional cable from your stereo into the headphone jack.

Not only would that be slightly annoying and inconvenient, but it's my understanding that the audio from the dock is also handled differently than the headphone jack. I'm not a real audiophile, so I don't remember what the deal is, but it's something like the dock connector not running the audio through the iPhone's built-in amp. The idea is you're going to feed it into a stereo and have volume control through that stereo anyway, so it shouldn't need to deal with that. Instead you (supposedly) get cleaner audio out to your stereo.

Re:data, audio, and power (3, Informative)

Phroggy (441) | more than 5 years ago | (#26889307)

iPhones don't need RGB or S-Video, so no, they're connectors don't need to be anything other than USB. Audio input and output do not (or at least should not) use the same plug as power/data (otherwise you can't charge your phone and use the headset at the same time).

Choose Component [apple.com] or Composite [apple.com] A/V cables to connect your iPhone to a TV. Included in the box is a USB charging adapter, so you can charge your iPhone while playing movies if you don't want to connect it to a computer. All of this connects via the single dock connector, which is standardized across both models of iPhone and several recent models of iPod (see the list at the bottom of each page). So, once you get everything hooked up, you can just leave the cable in place, and whenever you want to connect your iPhone (or your friend's iPhone, or your other friend's iPod) it's just one plug to connect it to your TV and charge the battery at the same time.

Remember, the iPhone has a built-in camera. Why wouldn't you want an easy way to plug it into a TV and show your family and friends the pictures you've taken?

Re:data, audio, and power (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26888717)

Exactly what I was thinking. We already have a universal way to charge cell phones, and that is USB. So you have to have your "special" cable that goes from your proprietary connection to USB. So what? The power adapter (brick) is the real problem here, and USB is the closest we've come to not having to carry a bunch of different ones around.

Re:data, audio, and power (2, Interesting)

jandrese (485) | more than 5 years ago | (#26888817)

You have a phone with S-Video out? Anyway, if you have a phone with a bunch of obscure ports like that, wouldn't it be better to have a separate connector for the power/data/digital audio from whatever weird ports you also have? Separate headphone jacks are hardly unique.

Re:data, audio, and power (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26888889)

Not sure about MULTI-channel input, but a standard 3.5mm jack socket can supply a stereo analogue output, at least mono input, and possibly even digital optical output.

It's better than having a proprietary integrated connector and a pointless bulky break-out cable.

Re:data, audio, and power (1)

compro01 (777531) | more than 5 years ago | (#26889121)

and possibly even digital optical output.

I believe you're thinking of SPDIF over TOSLINK, which looks like a 3.5mm jack and you can even stick a 3.5mm plug into it, but it won't do anything.

Re:data, audio, and power (1)

jonnythan (79727) | more than 5 years ago | (#26889399)

There are hybrid connectors out there that accept either.

Re:data, audio, and power (1)

uglyduckling (103926) | more than 5 years ago | (#26889623)

indeed, for instance the headphone socket on a MacBook

Re:data, audio, and power (1)

athakur999 (44340) | more than 5 years ago | (#26888959)

You could have a connector standard that was a standard micro-USB port next to a standardized audio or audio/video port - basically break out the iPod connector into two smaller connectors. You could plug in just a micro-USB cable to the micro-USB side, just a AV cable to the AV side, or use a standardized wider cable/connector that'd connect to both simultaneously.

Re:data, audio, and power (1)

BESTouff (531293) | more than 5 years ago | (#26888993)

Well no. Uber-phones just need an USB connector and appropriate drivers to let them feed audio/video/files/network/whatever they feel like through it. No need for special drivers and wires ! Just standardize on protocols (like Bluetooth did, but USB is also quite good at that) and you have one connector for all your needs.

Re:data, audio, and power (1)

jonnythan (79727) | more than 5 years ago | (#26889139)

How does that work with docks and in-car connectors?

I want to just use one cable to connect my PMP to my car and have both audio and charging covered. I want to be able to drop my PMP into a dock and have audio and video come out of it without having to connect additional cables.

"Drivers" do not solve these problems.

Re:data, audio, and power (1)

oogoliegoogolie (635356) | more than 5 years ago | (#26889211)

Umm...yes!
So where do I get and how do I install the drivers on my audio receiver so I can dock my USB-only iPod to it? Hmm??

No thanks (1)

name_already_taken (540581) | more than 5 years ago | (#26889483)

Well no. Uber-phones just need an USB connector and appropriate drivers to let them feed audio/video/files/network/whatever they feel like through it. No need for special drivers and wires ! Just standardize on protocols (like Bluetooth did, but USB is also quite good at that) and you have one connector for all your needs.

That would require every device you plug the phone or iPod into to be a USB host. That's going to cost a lot more.

I have a Nokia phone that can output video and stereo audio through its headset jack. It also has a standard mini USB port, and a barrel connector for the charger. I'm pretty sure it can charge through the USB connector, but since Nokia already had a charger that fit their other more basic phones, they elected to use that so people could use their older Nokia car chargers and so on.

But, getting back to what you were talking about:

How do you propose I install drivers on my TV and stereo, both of which lack USB ports?

Instead of a cheap video cable to show video or photos to your relatives, you would need a clunky thing that acts as a USB host and acts as a video adapter. That sounds like a very special wire! And it seems like a step backwards.

Re:data, audio, and power (1)

ohnotherobots (1448571) | more than 5 years ago | (#26889259)

HTC's ExtUSB connector has this capability while still being backwards compatible with mini USB. You can still use a regular mini USB connector in it, but it has extra pins (6 I think?) for A/V out and mic in. I have this on my Touch Pro and it works great, I believe this is also what's on the G1.

Re:data, audio, and power (1)

AJWM (19027) | more than 5 years ago | (#26889407)

cell phone cables need to be able to support digital data, power and analog multi-channel audio input(microphones) and output (speakers). Some also need to support RGB or S-video out

USB can do the first two. I may be mistaken but I don't think that USB can support those analog channels.

Actually my iPAQ uses a USB headset, supporting both audio in and out (via analog/digital conversion in the headset). Personally I wish it also had a regular analog port.

Too good to be true (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26888675)

You did notice the article said 2012?

By then, they will have changed their minds again.

Or, they will be switching to that mini-USB connector just as we move to USB3 with a new design

the oh-so-special adaptor is more than just USB... (2, Informative)

bstreiff (457409) | more than 5 years ago | (#26888733)

To be fair, the iPod dock connector carries more than just USB [pinouts.ru] . And the USB dock cables work on pretty much any model iPod.

Re:the oh-so-special adaptor is more than just USB (1)

fpophoto (1382097) | more than 5 years ago | (#26888841)

Yeah it is nice to be able to use my wife's 2nd gen ipod cable for my touch when I need to (and vice versa) I thought for sure that would be something Apple wouldn't do.

Re:the oh-so-special adaptor is more than just USB (1)

PJ1216 (1063738) | more than 5 years ago | (#26889491)

The iPod dock connector can't carry more than just USB at once. It can carry USB *or* Firewire. But it doesn't do both simultaneously. The purpose of the connector is so it doesn't need two separate ports... one for firewire, one for USB. I don't think USB and Firewire ports are interchangeable, but I could be mistaken. In all honesty, Apple should just drop Firewire support for iPods and iPhones since they really don't need it.

Re:the oh-so-special adaptor is more than just USB (1)

illegalcortex (1007791) | more than 5 years ago | (#26889673)

Looking at the pinout, it also carries analog video and audio. Firewire is for only six pins out of the 30.

Why... (1)

XPeter (1429763) | more than 5 years ago | (#26888783)

USB provides 5 +/- 0.25 volts if I remember correctly. Why not just use the regular wall outlet instead? It would charge your devices so much faster compared to USB.

Re:Why... (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 5 years ago | (#26889359)

Faster isn't always the winner. In my case, I have a lot more USB ports than wall-outlets available. Also, wall-warts are considerably bulkier and heavier. I charge my phone at night so faster charges don't buy me anything, but USB charging definitely makes me more mobile.

You mean like.. (1)

raehl (609729) | more than 5 years ago | (#26889565)

..a wall charger with a micro-USB connector on the end of it?

Just because the connector is micro-USB doesn't mean the other end has to plug into a computer USB port.

oh-so-special? (5, Insightful)

nine-times (778537) | more than 5 years ago | (#26888907)

I wonder how Apple will feel about this? Will they finally realize that their oh-so-special adapter is nothing more than a fudged USB interface?"

Oh, like Apple is just using the dock connector to be "special"? It's true that the dock connector is *mostly* USB, but it also can carry audio and video so that, with only a dock, you can output to a stereo or TV. Also, the audio put out through the dock is supposedly different from what comes out of the headphone jack (I believe they aren't amplifying the audio from the dock), meaning you can get better quality for outputting to a stereo.

So I don't know why the submitter has to turn this into an Apple-bashing thing. Apple actually uses standards pretty often. And often, when they do stray from a standard, it's in order to provide specific functionality-- and even then they often release the specs for their version, allowing others to adopt it. For example, I believe they released the specs for their custom "mini display port" that they're using without requiring any kind of licensing fees or anything.

Re:oh-so-special? (4, Interesting)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 5 years ago | (#26889023)

So I don't know why the submitter has to turn this into an Apple-bashing thing. Apple actually uses standards pretty often.

Apple was the first to push widespread adoption of USB, IEEE1394, 802.11n, and MPEG-4, among many other standards.

Re:oh-so-special? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26889549)

Not to mention the exclusion of 5.25" floppy drives in favor of 3.5", and later, the exclusion of any floppy drive in favor of just an optical drive and USB ports.

Re:oh-so-special? (1, Informative)

OSDever (792851) | more than 5 years ago | (#26889071)

The Apple dock-connector audio-out is (as far as I am aware) raw decoded audio at max volume. It does not respect the iPod volume control at all, though it is affected by the "sound check" volume-balancing algorithm.

Re:oh-so-special? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26889151)

It's a line level signal as opposed to headphone level signal. There's a difference. If you're running the signal through an external amplifier, you want line level.

Re:oh-so-special? (0, Redundant)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | more than 5 years ago | (#26889327)

The Apple dock-connector audio-out is (as far as I am aware) raw decoded audio at max volume.

This is not really much different from line-out on many devices. Line out is not to be confused with the 3.5mm jack used for head phones which is volume controlled.

Re:oh-so-special? (5, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#26889091)

On the other hand, they specifically implemented an authentication chip that prevents video output on newer ipods if you use anything but officially blessed cables. There are certainly reasons for the dock connector; but that doesn't change the fact that Apple's approach toward accessory makers has pretty much been "flip over and shake until money stops coming out".

Re:oh-so-special? (4, Interesting)

bucky0 (229117) | more than 5 years ago | (#26889703)

[Citation Needed]

I have a new iPod touch that works fine with some handmedown generic cables.

Re:oh-so-special? (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 5 years ago | (#26889277)

Also, the audio put out through the dock is supposedly different from what comes out of the headphone jack (I believe they aren't amplifying the audio from the dock), meaning you can get better quality for outputting to a stereo.

The audio from the Dock is not amplified so it is used if your iPod needs to connect to another device like your home receiver. Also the Dock allows your receiver to control your iPod if it has iPod controls. In this way, the iPhone needs more than the standard mini-USB.

So I don't know why the submitter has to turn this into an Apple-bashing thing. Apple actually uses standards pretty often. And often, when they do stray from a standard, it's in order to provide specific functionality-- and even then they often release the specs for their version, allowing others to adopt it. For example, I believe they released the specs for their custom "mini display port" that they're using without requiring any kind of licensing fees or anything.

There's a long line of things Apple has adopted that are not created by Apple. Incidentally USB was created by Intel. When it was first introduced, PCs had USB but Apple was the first to get rid of all their peripheral connectors except for USB and Firewire (which is an Apple invention). Today most PC MBs have PS/2 connections still. Other things include AAC (created by the MPEG consortium), DisplayPort (created by VESA), FLAC (open source by Xiph), etc.

Re:oh-so-special? (1)

oogoliegoogolie (635356) | more than 5 years ago | (#26889357)

So I don't know why the submitter has to turn this into an Apple-bashing thing.

Because the submitter wants to sound like an r34l cool h4Xo5?

Re:oh-so-special? (3, Funny)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 5 years ago | (#26889525)

So I don't know why the submitter has to turn this into an Apple-bashing thing.

You must be new here.

Re:oh-so-special? (4, Interesting)

Logic (4864) | more than 5 years ago | (#26889619)

Excellent point. Just to head off other people talking out of their ass (wishful thinking, I know), the pinout [pinouts.ru] for the iPod/iPhone connector ought to be required reading before commenting on what it can and can't do. That connector provides interfaces for USB and Firewire, audio in/out, video out (composite and s-video), serial, and dedicated power.

It's not an ideal situation, but a single cable covers just about every possible use case. That's a big deal, ergonomically, and it means Apple can standardize internally on an interface across multiple product lines.

It's unfortunate: the knee-jerk reaction to "we need a universal charger" will miss the opportunity to standardize on a SINGLE interface cable for mobile devices, rather than using USB for power and data, a headphone jack for audio output, and who knows what proprietary arrangement for audio input and video output.

this FP fo8 GNAA (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26888957)

of open-source. if I remain you to join the volume of NetBSD up today! If yOu teeth into when could save it mistake of electing fun to be again. Preferrably with an

No legislation required.... (5, Funny)

try_anything (880404) | more than 5 years ago | (#26888991)

The threat of legislation was enough.

I'm sure the handset makers are deeply saddened by this. Clearly, this unwelcome meddling by government will hurt consumers by ending competition in this vital technical matter. Why, instead of buying the latest high-tech replacement cable custom optimized for advanced synergy with their handset, people might replace a lost cable with an abandoned, misbranded, maybe even second-handed cable from an older handset. This could cost consumers literally incalculable amounts of synergy and innovation. Why won't the government just let capitalism work?

Re:No legislation required.... (2, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#26889113)

Sounds like we need an astroturf group to take up the cause. I wonder if "Consumers for handset innovation" is taken?

Re:No legislation required.... (1)

evohe80 (737760) | more than 5 years ago | (#26889373)

I suppose you're kidding, right?

I'm sure the handset makers are deeply saddened by this. Clearly, this unwelcome meddling by government will hurt consumers by ending competition in this vital technical matter.

Vital techinical matter? It's just the charger. They could use additional ports if they want to. And it may be financially wise for the companies: they will charge you the same for the phone, and they won't have to give you another charger. I guess not that many people loose their chargers and have to buy additional units.

This could cost consumers literally incalculable amounts of synergy and innovation. Why won't the government just let capitalism work?

Mixing capitalism with a "standard" charge port doesn't make any sense. And I don't see any great amount of innovation coming from the charge port.

Re:No legislation required.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26889459)

Why won't the government just let capitalism work?

Because it doesn't?

they'll just make the charger a usb "host" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26889049)

I believe some vendors already do this: standard USB connectors, but the charger has "host" silicon, and so the phone refuses to charge when not used with a "genuine" charger.

Simple solution -- multiple ports (1)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 5 years ago | (#26889203)

My Palm has a usb connector that can provide data from the computer and also a charge but it also had a high-power connector with wall wart that could charge it fully in 20 minutes. Makes sense since usb charging can take up to four hours for a fully discharged battery.

I've seen hybrid connectors on some devices where you have your mini-usb to the left and the proprietary crap on the right. Plug in the proprietary connector, you get everything. If you're on the road and just need some juice, any standard mini-usb cable works fine.

If you absolutely cannot possibly put a hybrid connector on the bottom, use the proprietary one there and stick a usb on the side, done and done.

The real reason why nobody has standardized is there's no external force like the government telling them to do so and there's so much money to be made forcing people to buy ridiculously over-priced peripherals and accessories.

Take mp3 players for example. If it cost $100, I bet we could easily drop another $100 getting the accessories. Screen sleeve, car charger, audio adapter for the radio (fm transmitter are the most expensive), etc. A cigarette adapter will set you back $30 easy and the bastards cost less than a buck to make. It's the same bullshit you saw with the big box stores selling you the printer for a reasonable price and charging $20 for the $2 data cable not included in the box.

China and South Korea already did this, no? (3, Informative)

Dekortage (697532) | more than 5 years ago | (#26889269)

We discussed this issue back in 2006 [slashdot.org] , though for a different continent. But if South Korea [phonescoop.com] and China [textually.org] can do it, why not the rest of the world? Seems like it would be a win-win for manufacturing, if nothing else.

Re:China and South Korea already did this, no? (1)

Dekortage (697532) | more than 5 years ago | (#26889443)

FYI, yes, I see that TFA has a link [peopledaily.com.cn] to the Chinese government mandate.

Nokia need t get this message (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26889285)

I recently got an Nokia E71. They have a micro USB port, but cannot charge it via that port. They really need to enable user to sync and charge via the micro USB port like Samsung.

Will they really? (1)

rootnl (644552) | more than 5 years ago | (#26889297)

What prevents them from still requiring a proprietary signal from the usb port or psu to put the device in charge mode. Hence requiring a "certified" power source. Take for instance the PS3 controller, it doesn't charge from a regular mini usb power supply.

Apple has nothing to be ashamed of here (0, Flamebait)

peacefinder (469349) | more than 5 years ago | (#26889431)

While the iPhone uses Apple's own dock connector, that connector is only one jump away from USB for both charge and data, plus it includes extra features. (Audio and TV out.) The iPhone package ships with a USB-to-dock cable, and (in the US) a 110VAC-to-USB adapter. They've also kept the dock connector pretty stable, with the only major change being the switch from Firewire to USB - and many devices along the way could use either version.

I'd of course be delighted if everyone would standardize on one power+data connector for phones, but until that day comes I think Apple has no reason to be ashamed of what they've got now.

Id like this for all small electronics (1)

xSauronx (608805) | more than 5 years ago | (#26889439)

I bought a Sansa Fuze recently, because it fit all the criteria I had for a new mp3 player:

cheapish (4gb for $70)
Small/thin
Video playback
Expandable storage (via SDHC)
good codec support (ogg, flac, mp3, etc)
long battery life (~24 hours on a charge, for audio)

the *only* think i dont like? proprietary usb cable. what an annoying thing to do on a nifty little device.

Motorola uses micro USB format but not micro USB? (1)

karl.auerbach (157250) | more than 5 years ago | (#26889675)

I've had Motorola phones that have a micro USB connector but refuse to accept a charge from anything except a Motorola charger.

I would hope that this agreement to use USB goes further than simply adopting the physical connector.

It should be possible to attach to any convenient USB plug - without benefit of drivers - and recharge a phone.

Apple connector (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26889685)

While I too wouldn't mind a more standard charging connector, I see no reason why a mini-usb for getting power, AND a custom plug with more ability than simply power and a slow one to one data comm protocol for one host (the PC)

http://pinouts.ru/Devices/ipod_pinout.shtml [pinouts.ru]

That link shows both the iPod and iPhone connector. I am actually in the process of designing some nice attachments to the iPhone using a combination of USB, firewire, and a ttl serial port.
None of those things outside of the one USB connection would be found in USB.

Mini-USB won't let me get composite video out, or audio out to plug in my car stereo, or audio IN.

However, the practice of bastardizing the USB jack so it is only useful for power, and rare (or nonexistent) data purposes, totally needs to die.

I mean, I can understand if the phone doesn't Have those abilities at all, then of course the USB jack shouldn't. But just using iPhone as an example, plugging it in with the USB connector only makes it show up as a camera device to access pictures. Nothing else. And those antics are BS and should go.

Shouldn't have to be pushed. Should be a feature. (1)

Ranzear (1082021) | more than 5 years ago | (#26889711)

Being able to plug in your phone to charge with the same plug you may use for the headset, your camera (the real one, phone cameras still suck) and any other multitude of devices just makes sense from the beginning. It should be touted as a feature that a phone carries a standard charging connector, not pushed as an industry standard onto everyone. I use a mini-hat USB for my phone (Dash), camera (Samsung L60), and PS3 controllers already, so replacing any of them should be within my want to use the same charging devices I already have.

Having to buy new cables for a new phone has been a commercial scheme since 'cellular phone' day one, and could almost (based on usage) be compared to having to buy new video output cables every time you changed monitors; square-up your combinations and you have a lucrative market.

Luckily this hasn't flown well with consumers in some time (Apple backlash noted, conversion of iPods to standard headphone jacks et.al.), but again shouldn't be pushed as a 'standard' (Apple's extra capabilities built-in also noted) and instead as a 'works with your existing xxx' feature.
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