Apple to roll new Dock connector out across entire iOS product lineup this fall

iMore has learned that Apple intends to update their entire lineup of iOS device products to support the new, miniaturized Dock connector, and to do it as early the rumored September 12 special event this fall. This would include the new iPhone 5, the the new iPod nano and iPod touch, the rumored 7-inch iPad mini, and an updated version of the current 9.7-inch iPad.

The information comes from the same sources that told iMore about the new, smaller Dock connector back in February, and about a mini Dock adapter to fit legacy accessories last month.

We've gone over the reasons why Apple would release an iPad mini and how they could implement it before, but refreshing the iPad 3 so soon after it's March, 2012 launch, especially considering past updates have occurred only yearly schedules, is something equally interesting to consider.

Apparently, Apple believes consistent Dock connectors across the line, and other improvements they're able to make to the new iPad this point, are more important than sticking to yearly release schedules. Apple has previously shown little aversion to extending release schedules, with a 16 month gap between iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S, and no substantive iPod touch updates for 23 months and counting. But what about significantly shortening them?

Rumors of early iPad updates also aren't without precedent. Last year Daring Fireball, TechCrunch, and iMore and others heard the iPad 3 was being considered for a fall 2011 launch before ultimately getting scheduled into the "regular" spring 2012 slot.

Furthermore, iLounge reported last week that they'd heard from their own sources that an updated 9.7-inch iPad was in the works, but framed it in the context of a 4th-generation device that would include the new Dock connector, a rear-mounted mic, and address heat issues. They felt it was unlikely, however, due to Apple's typical iPad release schedules.

Yet Apple is firing on all cylinders are the moment, confidently moving OS X updates to the same yearly schedule as iOS updates, and beginning the process of bringing Retina displays to the Mac.

Whether a new, new iPad this fall would be an iPad 4,1 or simply a new iPad 3,x is unclear. Certainly Apple could decide again to hold off on any and all updates until next spring, or could do a more modest iPad 3 update this fall and a proper iPad 4 next spring.

In the meantime, it sure sounds like Apple is planning to run the line when it comes to iOS device updates this September.

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Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

  • I hope and pray they do not update the 9.7 iPad so soon. Please please keep it at the same yearly update time.
  • I'm sure it won't, Apple has never released a product so soon, they usually wait a 1 year +. Also, the speculations of the iPad Mini are also a bit of a stretch. It might be marketed as an iPod Touch XL. It will be fun to see that revelation happening in the Fall.
  • You're sure they won't do something for the first would be the first time? Apple does what it wants to do/feels is necessary. If that means there is a change in scheduling, that's not unheard of. Early/late may not make a huge difference to them - especially because at may mean that they can ramp up production of accessories that fit the new connector and eliminate or more aggressively downshift production on what will be the "old school" connector accessories.
  • Well, yeah sure, every company would do whatever they want to do, but Apple needs to make sure that they don't burn their costumers. I really doubt that they will bring out another version of the iPad just for the simple reason that whoever bought it early this year would want to have an exchange or even something free out of this device. I remember the time when I bought my iPad 2, and during the holiday sales season the rumors went ablaze that Apple was coming out with the iPad 3 in December. It came and went and nothing. The introduction of a new iPad 3 will steal sales from the earlier model and that's something that Apple will not want it to happen. If anything, the iPad Mini will be the production of the night, and it makes sense not to have the iPad 3 come out at the same time. Its all about sells, if the new iPad 3 and the iPad Mini come out at the same time, they will be competing against each other, apple wants you to buy both, not the cheaper version of the two.
  • That reminds me of my second point from the other post. Apple DID come out with an altered version of the IPad 2. I am not sure if it was after or before the iPad 3 - maybe after. Anyway, I am one of those who bought theipad 3 and I'm glad of it. I'd prefer it to a model with a new connector.
  • Lol oh yeah, I remember about that one, the elusive iPad 2.4. Came out after the iPad 2, supposedly with better processor that will help with battery life, if I could get it, believe me I would have tried to return it for it. But it was red herring, you couldn't just go to the store and purchase it, it was more like a golden ticket, you wouldn't know you got it until you unwrap the box. I'm very happy with my iPad 2 though, I don't see myself updating it for a long time, love reading comics on it.
  • Why? What happens to you if they update the iPad sooner?
  • A change this soon to the new iPad simply doesn't make sense. In the past when apple released a new line of laptops and software, if you bought a laptop prior to the new release but within the year they allowed you to upgrade your software for free, so would they do something to allow all the people who are buying the new iPad to get some kind of dock converter for the new accessories at a discounted price? The change over would make sense but it doesn't seem to fit Apple's style to do so on a new product so early. Doing so would be like saying oh we had something new but it wasn't really finished so we put it out anyway.
  • First of all, Apple has done a number of things lately that people haven't considered to "fit Apple's style". Annnnnd, I guess I forgot my "secondly" point. :-D
  • Kinda surprising to see "4,1" on iMore after frequenting the site for so long, I thinkid have noticed a more consistent use of this format as opposed to "4.1.". Anyway... As an iPad New owner, I wouldn't be bothered by a new model being released, now. I dig what I've got and I'm damned glad it's got the current connector. Maybe releasing a newer model will drop the price of this one and I can finally get my lady to agree that it's worth going all-in on the 9.7 or 7.85 inch models for herself.
  • 4,1 would be the model number for the next iPad. The current one is 3,1. All of Apple's products, including Macs, are in that format. Retina MacBook Pro is 10,1.
  • In general this feels like a positive move, the existing connector was a bit big for iPods and iPhones. However a lot of third party hardware depended on the old port, how will Apple deal with that? The results of this change depend on how they deal with existing customers and 3rd party hardware vendors, via adaptors etc
  • I suspect they'll release a small adapter which will solve most people's problems. For chargers, all you'll need is an existing USB-to-dock connector cable plus the adapter, or a new cable (which will come in the box for future iPhones/iPods etc). The real issue is for more integrated products that use the 30-pin connector - in car fittings, sound docks etc. An adapter might work in a sound-dock scenario, but it would likely mean the iPhone/iPod wouldn't quite fit into the slot and would stick out a bit. And there will be some accessories that flat out won't work - anything that outputs composite video, for example, is rumoured to be not supported by the new dock connector as it's legacy technology. Apple is no stranger to causing a bit of a headache for some users if it means benefiting the majority. We've had processor architecture changes on the Mac several times, a whole plethora of display connector changes, and so on. Some people will be inconvenienced, but they'll get through it before long. One day we might even see the dock connector banished for good...
  • My guess is that Apple will simply convert over to the new dock connector as their new products hit the market. If they announce the new iPhone, new iPods and a 7" iPad, I would expect them to include the new dock connector, but I would be very surprised if the iPad 3 would be redesigned to include the new connector so soon.
  • My first thought when reading this in regards to the current iPad is that Apple could just change the connector and not really update the 3rd gen iPad otherwise. Then they could still release the next model with updated specs next year.
  • This is what confused me about that idea. I could see that as a possibility, but why not just make the converter piece for now and then have a fully updated device in early 2013. Unless there is some significant difference in cost of production why would they create a basically identical model, then have the 30-pin as a discounted product, who would buy the same exact technology at a higher price? Would they stop selling the 30-pin new iPad? I like the idea of the improved hardware but here it makes things rather complicated where as Apple is known for its elegant simplicity.
  • Overall the only reason there doing this is to force you to buy all new accessories. And there probably not going to offer an adapter, so they can make more money.
  • Sure. Apple is abandoning a decade-old oversized port that supports a number of legacy and obsolete technologies (including three pins just for composite video) for the sole reason to boost their margins, and it has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with making smaller, lighter products with more room for things that matter such as larger batteries that, you know, actually make a product better. Do you have any idea just how little accessories contributes to Apple's bottom line? It almost doesn't register on the scale.
  • What features will we lose with fewer pins?
  • Scroll to 'How to shrink 30 pins' for an explanation of the functionality we'd likely lose by moving to a 19-pin design:
  • perhaps i can finally post about this article, i hope they can do more with this smaller dock like make an iwatch, that i would love to have but seem to be unable to post here about.
  • So you are saying the iPhone 4 (which will still be around) will suddenly get a new dock connector? I don't buy it. As they introduce new models, yes, I see that. I don't see them changing mid stream. And so they can sell more accessories? I am sure that isn't it.
  • Apple and other third party vendors are going to make a lot of money from selling new accessories.
  • The "new" iPad is $40 off this week at MicroCenter. That normally indicates a new model or a price drop or both.
  • Check out this new concept :
  • The itouch that is said to be updated will probably not sport the 19 pin connector because the itouch is curved in the bottom so it won't completely plug in all the way.. Unless the make it have a flat bottom like the iPhone 4S... Same with the iPad.
  • I'm not sure I follow your logic - how would a connector that is smaller in width not be able to plug in all the way?