Apple’s Lightning to Dock Connector adapters won’t work with old speaker systems, clock radios, etc. [Update: Apple reportedly says analog audio out supported]

[UPDATE: 11:07pm EDT: According to The Verge‘s Sean Hollister, “Apple says the 30-pin adapter does support analog audio out.” If so, good news! Whew! Hollister also reports that Lightning to HDMI and Lightning to VGA adapters are on the way. Full article here.]

Apple’s “expensive adapters [US$29 or $39 with a cord] don’t support video or a feature called ‘iPod Out.’ That means if you buy a $29 adapter so you can plug your iPhone 5 into your speaker dock, there’s a chance you won’t actually be able to play music through the speakers,” David Goldman reports for CNN. “Which is, you know, the point of buying the adapter in the first place.”

MacDailyNews Note: “iPod Out” is a vehicle integration feature, not analog audio, that seems to have gone the way of the Dodo, especially in light Apple’s “Eyes Free” Siri integration in iOS 6.

“The old 30-pin connector that Apple had been using on all iPods, iPads and iPhones since 2003 was able to send an analog signal out, which many cars, docks and other gadgets picked up to control the iPod and play music through their speakers,” Goldman reports. “The new eight-prong Lightning adapter is all digital, but Apple did not respond to requests for comment about why the adapter wasn’t designed to convert the digital signal to analog. Some older speaker docks that aren’t compatible with the adapter will still be able to play music from an iPhone 5 by connecting a cord from an auxiliary jack to the iPhone’s headphone jack. But that kind of misses the point of the dock in the first place.”

Goldman reports, “The adapter can be used to charge iPhone 5 phones through old docks or connect them to a PC via old cables, for instance, though Apple will be supplying a Lightning-to-USB adapter and a wall plug with its devices that will be able to accomplish that task. The new Lightning connector is 80% smaller than Apple’s old one, a feat that helped Apple make the iPhone 5 the thinnest iPhone yet.”

Read more in the full article here.

[UPDATE: 11:07pm EDT: According to The Verge‘s Sean Hollister, “Apple says the 30-pin adapter does support analog audio out.” If so, good news! Whew! Hollister also reports that Lightning to HDMI and Lightning to VGA adapters are on the way. Full article here.]

MacDailyNews Take: Well, let the crapshoot begin! Boy, that Bose Portable Sounddock wasn’t exactly cheap.

Neither was that BMW.

Assuming/hoping/praying they both want digital audio signals. Fingers crossed and soon-to-be searching through specs…

Wonder how many cars, docks and other gadgets relied on analog out? We’ll soon find out, won’t we? Hopefully the number is small.

52 Comments

  1. Okay, now I wouldn’t be upgrading to the iPhone 5 even if my contract WAS up for renewal. I’ve spent way more on peripherals than I’ve ever spent on an iPhone, and it’s not worth chucking all that for a few extra pixels of screen space and a few grams lighter of a phone that didn’t need to be thinner in the first place.

    1. There will be a lot of you out there who don’t think Apple will have taken care of all those compatibility concerns with the adaptor. Why do you think the adapter is so expensive? Could it be that it has a digital to analog converter built in? Are you just new to Apple products? Apple stuff generally just works. Try it first before you say it won’t work.

      1. Perhaps you haven’t read the update closely enough: analog-out is still there, but iPod Out IS gone. That makes my most expensive iPhone accessory — my car — incompatible. At least in part because Apple wanted to make the phone thinner, which it didn’t need to be.

        As to why the adapter is so expensive? Because it’s made by Apple. How new are YOU to Apple products? I would venture the COGS on the adapter is no more than $3, but they ask for and get a premium on all their gear. Which I have always happily paid. But when they start leaving out function to fit form, as in making the phone thinner and dropping useful technology, I balk.

        Did the MacBook Air have to be so thin they couldn’t include a physical Ethernet port? No, it did not. The upcoming iMac revision is rumored to be thinner at the expense of dropping the optical drive. If true, is that necessary? No. Why does it need to be thinner and lighter? It just sits there on my desk. Yes, Apple has always been aggressive about dropping fading technology, often early enough people complained. But I have never seen this kind of aggressiveness about it that only suits form OVER function from them. it’s very disconcerting.

        And FYI, I’ve been using Apple products for 33 years. I’m hardly unfamiliar with them.

            1. I have owned and used Apple Macs since 1984 and have championed them ever since. There were many who lamented the loss of the 5.25″ floppy, the loss of the 3.5″ floppy, SCSI ports, ethernet ports, optical drives, hard drives etc but Apple has always been a leader and not a follower.

              The change over to the Lightening connector has been a long time coming and your children will wonder why we needed so many pins and such a huge connector. Analog signals are a thing of the past too and all new devices will be coming out with digital IO.

              Apple sees the way of the future and it is not the way we used to do things. Just because I don’t agree with you doesn’t mean I didn’t hear you.

            2. All of those changes you mention were replaced by more advanced technologies. I’ve never had problem one with that. But watch Phil Schiller in the keynote: he talks at length about how hard Apple engineers worked to accomplish the same or improved functionality as the 4S whiled making the phone thinner and lighter. But he never says WHY they had to make the iPhone 5 thinner or lighter. No one has ever said the 4S is too thick or too heavy. They made the change for the sake of change.

              Other than being smaller, what is the advancement that the Lightning connector makes? Is it USB 3, rather than USB 2 like the 30 pin? No. It’s smaller, that’s it. (Well, it is reversible, which is way cool.) And they make it smaller by dropping functionality. Yes, most of the functions lost were no longer used. But iPod Out WAS still being used. On brand new cars. And Bluetooth connectivity doesn’t provide equivalent functionality.

              Look, I have no problem with change when it’s an advancement. I have no problem with using an adapter (although given the sheer volume of third party accessories the average iPhone owner has, they could have thrown it in the box for free). But this change was forced by the desire for bragging rights. “The world’s thinnest smartphone,” Phil said on stage, complete with slide. Who asked for that? That’s not a selling point for me at all. Function is. Not a checklist of features, but usefulness, which is what Apple has always provided me, since 1979.

              This just seems like a step back to me. YMMV.

            3. I guess that you would have been happy if cell phones stayed half as large as a shoe box and would see no advantage in making them smaller and lighter. The market place was screaming for something different from the iPhone 4S and I guess that you would have liked the iPhone 5 to be bigger, heavier and with lots of legacy connectors. That’s not Apple’s way.

            4. Actually there are lots of people who were clamoring for the iPhone 5 to be bigger than it is. And my first cell phone back in the early 2000’s was way smaller than the iPhone 4S. I didn’t say anything about it having to be bigger or heavier, but again, you’re not actually hearing what I’m saying, you’re just putting words in my mouth. I said they shouldn’t throw away NON-legacy functions just for the sake of making the phone thinner. To use your words, the marketplace was screaming for something different than the iPhone 4S, but that was for something bigger, i.e. with a bigger display. No one was screaming for something thinner. That is Apple’s obsession, and they pursued it at the cost of functionality.

            5. I’ve used the optical drive in my 5-year-old MacBook Pro maybe 2 or 3 times. I don’t need it. Apple is famous for pushing out old technologies. Look where it’s gotten them. Might be uncomfortable at first, but we are human, we adapt.

            6. Fine, you don’t need it. I use mine 2-3 times per week. And you’re talking about your MacBook Pro, which is a portable device. I understand the rationale behind making a portable computer lighter and thinner. But the iMac is not intended to be portable. It sits there on my desk. I don’t carry it anywhere. The only reason to make it thinner and lighter is for aesthetics, and to do that at the expense of functionality is a bad thing. Yes, I know I can buy an external SuperDrive if Apple takes out the optical in the next iMac. But why should I have to? So the computer looks prettier BY APPLE’S STANDARDS? WTF?

  2. Really Apple? Even your biggest fans are puzzled by this move. One of the reasons users stay in the Apple ecosystem is because of the accessories.

    When you render many of them useless, you eliminate a barrier to trying Android. Or, do you think users love iPhone so much they won’t?

  3. What a bunch of crap apple as already announced that the adapter supports analog audio out. iPod out was a unused feature with the exception of a couple of car experiments.
    Analog video has been dead for years lightning to hdmi and VGA are in the way. To much FUD

  4. Newer iPod integration kits in BMWs are all digital. This should not be a basis for concern.

    Come to think of it, I am fairly confident that the Bose SoundDocks are digital as well as they all have onboard DACs.

    Unless you’re using lower-end accessories, you should be fine. I won’t, however, praise Apple for the adapter price point – wow.

    1. That’s what the initial leaks were showing. Plug for lightening, plug for 3.5mm headphone jack. I suspect this could still be in the works since all the other leaks were spot on. If that’s the case, it solves the analog audio out issue quite simply.

  5. Well, well. The perfect Apple ecosystem is coming apart. Fragentation with iOS – I saw a chart today showing which features of iOS 6 will work on which devices, and it’s getting uglier. Multiple resolutions and aspect ratios – yeah, black bars above and below my old apps. Nice (not). Incompatible hardware accessories without a functional adapter – ouch! If I didn’t know better, I’d think Apple was trying really hard to emulate many of Android’s biggest flaws.

    1. Disagree completely. It is time for apple to take the device forward. I would agree with you if this is the 3rd time in 6 releases that Apple has changed the connector, aspect ratio (not resolution), feature set, etc, but it’s not. It’s the first time since the initial release in 2007. It’s time to upgrade. Just like a luxury car manufacture – let a solid platform span 5 years, then release a major upgrade (ie BMW e46 to e9X). In my opinion it’s appropriate and tasteful.

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