What you need to know

  • Apple's Lightning dongles pack much more tech inside them than you think.
  • Hackaday examines some of the tech and it is very impressive.
  • The little dong'es have full-fledged SoCs that run their own OS to better communicate.

Apple is no stranger to trying to capitalize on its proprietary elements to maximize its profits. That's none more evident than with its expensive Lightning dongles. However, if you tear them down, you'll find out that Apple packs them with crazy technology.

In a recent breakdown of Apple's Lightning dongles, Hackaday's Jenny List examines the tech inside them. Here's what she had to say:

Where you might expect these to contain mostly the equivalent of a graphics card, in fact they have a fully-fledged SoC of their own that runs its own OS with the same Darwin kernel as its host. Unexpectedly this is not held upon the adapter itself, instead it is shipped with iOS and loaded dynamically.

Thus the file containing it can be retrieved from iOS and unpacked, leading to some interesting analysis. In a fascinating twist for those of us unused to Lightning's internals, it's revealed that the device can be driven from a USB port with the appropriate cobbled-together adapter, allowing a full-size MacOS device to interrogate it.

This peek inside Apple's peripherals shows us how much care goes into crafting them. Sure, they can be expensive, but Apple puts just about every measure in place to make sure they work properly. The same can't be said about cheaper third-party ones that do the bare minimum.

Apple's magic sometimes shows up in the little things. This is one of those occassions.