Lightning Thief

For the past two decades we've lived cable hell. It's the place where everything we own has a different charger cable and one where there are so many "standards" that never make things easier. It has gotten a bit better in recent years, but now the US is working to push it even further. Jenny Zheng at GameSpot has more on how there is a big push for "the one plug to rule them all".

A group of US lawmakers are urging the Department of Commerce to establish a standardized common charger for all mobile devices.

Spearheading the appeal are Democratic senators Ed J. Markey, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders. In the letter to Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, the senators said, "We write regarding the economic and environmental harm inflicted by the consumer electronics industry’s failure to establish a uniform charging accessory standard."

The letter pointed to a lack of uniform standards putting a financial burden on consumers, as well as causing them to frequently change their charging accessories. Obsolete chargers end up in the landfill, contributing to electronic waste.

GameSpot

Zheng's reporting, for me, is on the money when it comes to electronic waste. Apple has withstood a firestorm of criticizm for removing the wall plug from the iPhone 12. But, as Deiter Bohn explained, there is a LOT of waste with all these wall chargers.

Does creating a single plug like USB-C make sense? It might. The TV industry moved to a single standard with HDMI. Invented in 2002, it was already a plug in 5 million homes by 2004. That number tripled by the following year. HDMI has had revisions and improvements since then, but the plug itself has not changed. You can use any HDMI wire to connect any two devices. Will you get exactly the output you want? Perhaps not. But it will work.

For Apple specifically, it's weird to see them have four competing ways to charge their products. MacBooks now use either MagSafe or USB-C. iPhones and Airpods use Lightning. The iPad is a mix of the two. Then you get to the Apple Watch which uses induction. For a company that is usually quite focused, they certainly have a lot of mixed up charging going on. Personally, I'd love to see them embrace USB-C for everything mobile and MagSafe / USB-C for their notebooks. The environment would definitely appreciate it.

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