Apple has a history of axing features that users are attached to. While the iPhone 7's lack of a headphone jack was this year's notable loss, the switch to USB-C means the latest Macbook and Macbook Pro models don't have the MagSafe power cord. Branch has jumped in to fill the gap and launched MagNeo on Kickstarter, a magnetic, breakaway USB-C adapter that provides power, data and video streaming.
Cables running everywhere are prime targets for rogue feet or clumsy cats to catch, sending thousands of dollars of tech cluttering to the floor. MagSafe connections were designed to prevent that collateral damage: the cable was held in place with a magnet that would pull away from the laptop harmlessly if tugged hard enough. The idea was solid enough to carry over to other devices like smartphone chargers, headphones and even guitars.
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Measuring just 0.36 x 0.94 x 0.68 in (9.1 x 23.9 x 17.3 mm), MagNeo brings that function back to the new Macbooks with a magnetic section that breaks away to leave the plug still in the device. Branch isn't the first third party company to run with the idea, but it seems to be far more versatile than existing options. Where the Griffin Breaksafe only provides power to charge a device, the MagNeo also supports video at resolutions of up to 5K, and data at speeds of up to 10 Gb/s.
The adapter is compatible with Thunderbolt 3 devices, and while Branch is marketing it to scorned Apple fans, it will work just fine with other brands of laptops, monitors, peripherals and Android phones and tablets, provided they use USB-C. Like the standard plugs, the magnetic connector has no right-way up, to save some fumbling time.
Branch is currently seeking funding for the MagNeo on Kickstarter, where the campaign has already surpassed its US$35,000 goal, with over a month remaining. Pledges start at $35, and if all goes to plan, shipping is expected to begin in January 2017.
The campaign video can be seen below.