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Here's how accessories will use your iPhone's Lightning port

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Apple already lets accessory makers use the Lightning port on iOS devices for headphones. However, it's reportedly close to opening the floodgates to more devices. And if 9to5Mac's leaked specs are accurate, the company will let these peripherals do more than you might expect. Lightning lets the iPhone send power and data to everything from game controllers to speakers, but it should also let you pass through other accessories at the same time. A dock could charge and sync your iPhone while you listen to music without needing a mess of extra cables, for instance. The connector should also charge battery-powered gear faster than the standard USB cables you use today.

There are limits. Apple's program reportedly allows just one Lightning port per accessory (possibly to avoid interference and power woes), so you won't see a hub that hooks up multiple iOS devices. Also, there are parts of the spec that are "to be determined," so you may see a few gotchas when the licensing system is ready. However, Apple's decision to skip standard micro-USB now makes a little more sense -- the reversible connector may be the most obvious difference, but you're also getting a slightly more sophisticated connection.

Photo by Will Lipman.

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