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Apple updates MFi guidelines after Kickstarter project flap

The defunct POP Station charging system. | Source: Edison Junior via Kickstarter

In a statement on Friday, Apple noted that it has slightly changed the terms of its "Made for iPhone/iPad/iPod" specifications to allow third-party manufacturers to build accessories that use the Lightning connector in conjunction with legacy 30-pin adapters, a feature prohibited in the company's original stipulations.

Apple told CNET that the MFi terms have been changed to allow third-party accessories to implement both the new Lightning connector and the older 30-pin plugs in a single product. The news comes a day after media outlets publicized the death of POP, a Kickstarter project for an all-in-one iDevice charger that was effectively killed by Apple previous licensing rules.

"Our technical specifications provide clear guidelines for developing accessories and they are available to MFi licensees for free," said Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr. "We support accessories that integrate USB and Lightning connectors, but there were technical issues that prevented accessories from integrating 30-pin and Lightning connectors so our guidelines did not allow this."

It is unclear if the change is in response to the media blitz surrounding POP's demise, but Apple's claim of having "technical issues" with the combination of interconnect protocols is questionable given that the Kickstarter project was able to build a working model that included both Lightning, 30-pin and micro-USB standards.

POP creator James Siminoff told ArsTehnica that his company was already part of the MFi program before the launch of the iPhone 5, and consequently the smaller Lightning format, and didn't expect Apple to alter the licensing stipulations. With Apple's new guidelines in place, POP was unable to acquire the necessary license which forced the cancelation of the project despite having funding from 1,000 backers totaling $139,170. As of this writing, Siminoff is not planning to resurrect POP and will issue refunds to all customers.

"If it has to be an Apple-only product, and Lightning can't be next to, say, an Android charger, then it's still not something we want to make," Siminoff said after learning of the updated guidelines. "I hope they become customer friendly. Maybe we will be able to do [the POP charger] after all."