Apple Watch connects to display pedestal via 'hidden' data port with Lightning connector, photos show
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A set of images posted to the Web on Wednesday purportedly show a partially dismantled Apple Watch in-store display with attached Lightning cable, suggesting the device can be charged and fed data via a hidden data port.
As seen in the image above, published by Apple blog Blog do iPhone, working Apple Watch display units deployed at Apple's retail stores appear to use a physical Lightning-based connector for transferring data and continuous power from an iPad mini-powered pedestal.
The cable in question terminates with a Lightning connector and is though to interface directly to a data port found on production Apple Watch models nestled in the top strap attachment slot. Existence of the unannounced port was first reported in March, but its purpose has yet to be officially verified.
Apple Stores provide Apple Watch models to try on, though these units are limited to a software demo loop. A limited number of operational models are available for customer, mounted on a wedge-shaped stand next to an iPad mini. The Watch, which is being continuously charged, is connected to the iPad mini for an interactive experience that offers brief descriptions of device functions as customers browse through Watch's apps.
The stand itself sports a six-pin connector on its underside that is thought to provide data connectivity and perhaps power to recharge an internal battery cell.
Earlier this month, developers of Apple Watch battery band accessory Reserve Band claimed the hidden port can indeed be used to charge the device, though a proof of concept was not offered.
While third-party hardware makers are excited about the prospect of gaining deeper access to functional Watch features like direct charging, Apple is unlikely to allow access to the port in the near future.