Apple's Lightning to USB-C cable lets users plug iPhone, iPad into 12-inch MacBook

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One of the less publicized Apple announcements on Monday was the introduction of a Lightning to USB-C cable, an accessory addressing a serious compatibility problem for 12-inch MacBook owners who also own an iOS device.

The cable, available in 1-meter and 2-meter lengths, connects any Lightning-equipped iOS device with a computer's USB-C port, a convenient feature for owners of the 12-inch Retina MacBook. To cut down extraneous components, Apple's thin-and-light laptop boasts only a single USB-C connection, meaning users who also owned an iPhone or iPad would have to charge their portable separately, or purchase an adapter.

In addition to simple connectivity, the USB-C cable can also be used to take advantage of the 12.9-inch iPad Pro's fast-charge feature. Aside from a direct computer connection, owners can plug their Pro into the same 29-watt USB power adapter that recharges the 12-inch MacBook. And thanks to the inclusion of USB 3 technology, the iPad Pro will charge at a much faster rate of 29 watts, compared to the 12-watt adapter that ships with the Pro.

AppleInsider was first to note in February that 29-watt iPad Pro charging was technically possible. At the time, the only limiting factor was the fact that Apple had not yet brought a USB 3-capable Lightning cable to market — which has now changed.

The benefits won't be seen by the new 9.7-inch iPad Pro, however, as Apple did not include a USB 3 Lightning connector on the smaller "Pro" model. That will charge at the standard 12 watts, but the device also has a much smaller battery that will take less time to replenish.

The least expensive Lightning to USB-C Cable is 1 meter (3 feet) long, and costs $25. Orders can ship as fast as March 23.