Reversible USB finally on the way

A new USB specification is in development for a plug that can be plugged in either side up.

A new USB specification is in development for a plug that can be plugged in either side up.

(USB Male Plug Type A image by André Karwath, CC BY-SA 2.5)

It's become a cliché: you have to try three times to plug in a USB because you have it the wrong way up the first two times. That looks like it is coming to an end with the next generation of USB, ZDNet has reported.

The USB 3.0 Promoter Group has announced that it has started development on the USB Type-C connector, with an aim to be completed by mid-2014. Built on existing USB 3.1 and USB 2.0 technologies, Type-C will be tailored on a similar size to the existing micro USB to work with emerging products.

The key part we took away from the announcement (PDF), though, was that it can be plugged in either side up:

Usability enhancements — users will no longer need to be concerned with plug orientation/cable direction, making it easier to plug in.

The new plug and port will not work, however, with existing USB products — it will be an all-new design. This means that users will need an adapter for existing products for the time being, which in turn means that the number of different USB ports and cables users need will be higher.

The new specification will be submitted for industry review in the first quarter of next year and finalised towards the middle of 2014. We can expect to see it start appearing in devices towards the latter half of 2014.

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