If the Lightning connector is so small, why is there only one on each iPad?

Apple’s supposed reason for changing its 30 pin connector to the Lightning connector is size. It’s smaller, so it takes up less space. That makes some sense, I guess, but what I want to know is this: If the thing is so much smaller, why is there only one on each iPad?

What I’m talking about here is the fact that an iPad can’t dock horizontally. There’s no dock connector on what becomes the bottom when held in landscape mode, which results in what’s frankly ridiculous accessories like the Apple Keyboard Dock, which is now dead. Luckily. I don’t know about anyone else, but seeing an iPad docked vertically into a keyboard dock never stopped looking funny to me.

The market seems to have adapted to this issue. Keyboards for the iPad are pretty much always Bluetooth keyboards, which means that you’re paying for – and dragging around – a battery to power it, and wireless tech to connect it. The Microsoft Surface’s Touch Cover is so thin because it’s essentially a dumb touch sensitive surface that doesn’t need any complicated tech. Meanwhile, in iPad land, Logitech’s Ultrathin Keyboard Cover is as close as we get. Comparatively speaking, it’s not impressive.

There’s no end to situations where docking horizontally makes sense. In a car, in a speaker dock, in a keyboard dock, in a desk dock, in a charging cradle, in a tripod mount, and so on. If Collusion turns out to be any good, a Lightning version attached to the long side of an iPad mini would be nothing short of epic. Not only that, but one side of the iPad already has magnets for a Smart Cover. Put a docking port in the middle of that and you both have a way to conceal the dock when not in use, and magnets that accessories can use. That would also allow for (assuming that the Lightning connector can do it, like the 30 pin connector could) plugs that grip the inside of the connector as loosely as possible, and leave it to some outside magnetic connector to actually hold it in place. Magsafe for iPad, anyone?

I know Apple made the connector smaller to save space, which is needed because its own arrogance with the screen resolution now means the iPad is a 42.5Wh battery device. Still, it seems to me that the argument for only one dock connector was diminished by this new connector. I for one would be more inclined to buy an iPad mini or iPad 4 if there was a second dock connector, and even more so if Apple made its own version of the Touch Cover. The Touch Cover itself is a spin off of the Smart Cover concept, so I don’t see it as any more wrong of Apple to copy it back than it was for Microsoft to go for a magnetically attaching screen cover to begin with.

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Andreas Ødegård

Andreas Ødegård is more interested in aftermarket (and user created) software and hardware than chasing the latest gadgets. His day job as a teacher keeps him interested in education tech and takes up most of his time.