Apple's Lightning-to-USB-C transition tipped to gather pace with new accessories in spring 2024

The 2023 M3 iMac on a wooden desk, showing the features of macOS Sonoma
(Image credit: Gerald Lynch / Future / Apple)

Apple famously kicked off the iPhone's transition away from the decade-old Lightning port and towards a new USB-C-shaped future with the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro in September 2023. But the iPhones are only part of that transition, with the rest of Apple's lineup also set to ditch Lightning in favor of the new, more universal port. That has to happen by the end of 2024, and a new report suggests that some of Apple's Mac accessories will be ready to make the change in the spring of that year.

That report claims that Apple is ready to breathe new life into its entire Mac input accessory lineup including its keyboards, mouse, and trackpad. All three currently use Lightning connectors for charging and quick-pairing, but that will have to change soon. Some had expected that change to take place when Apple announced the 24-inch M3 iMac not that long ago, but that didn't happen and there are brand-new Macs being sold today with Lightning port-endowed accessories in the box.

While we've known for some time that Apple will have to refresh these accessories with USB-C ports, the exact timing has remained a mystery — especially since that 24-inch iMac refresh. But now a leaker with an admittedly hit-and-miss record has weighed in, and we're told that spring 2024 is the time frame that we should be looking to.

All the USB-C things

That leaker is Instant Digital, a poster on the Weibo Chinese social network. MacRumors picked up the news and little information seems to have been shared about the plans beyond that spring timeframe. It is as yet unclear whether these new accessories will have a refreshed design beyond the change of port, but the upshot appears to be that the Magic Mouse, Magic Trackpad, and Magic Keyboard models will all be updated.

If there are changes to be had, the most obvious of the three accessories to get a revamp would be the much-maligned Magic Mouse. The mouse has gone through two versions to date but they both sport the same problem that the Magic Mouse has been roundly mocked for over the years. I am, of course, talking about the placement of that Lightning port right on the mouse's belly. The placement means that the Magic Mouse cannot be charged and used at the same time, which arguably isn't as big of a problem as you might think. But it's inelegant, and a change would be welcome. A recent patent suggests that Apple is working on a Magic Mouse with Force Touch technology, but it remains to be seen whether that will go beyond the patent stage.

As for the Magic Trackpad and Magic Keyboard, they're largely well-liked by everyone who has used one, so minimal changes are likely across those two products regardless.

The transition continues

With the EU mandating that devices must use a common charging port, in this case, USB-C, the days of Lightning are very much numbered. The only real question now is at which point through 2024 will we see the last Lightning port-powered device killed off.

Apple recently released a new USB-C Apple Pencil, hinting that the Lightning model is not long for this world. The iPhone is now powered by USB-C as is the iPad lineup. Apple did away with the MagSafe Battery Pack a while ago, leaving very little still powered by Lightning. Roll on spring, I say. Long live USB-C.

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Oliver Haslam
Contributor

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.