Rejoice! The boffins in charge of USB standards appear to have settled on a design for the much-anticipated USB 3.1 Type C connector. For starters, there’s no “right way up” – that alone will trigger a sigh of relief from many of us. Both ends of the cable will be the same, it’ll make an audible "click" when it’s connected, it’s about the same size as a current micro-USB connector, and it can handle device charging as well as 10 Gbps data transfer rates.
The Type C is intended to eventually replace all existing connectors and scale into the future – it’s capable of carrying data rates beyond USB 3.1. Of course, in the first instance it will simply mean there’s one more type of USB cable to worry about, and most people will need to use adapters from their myriad other systems to connect older devices with. (relevant XKCD)
The above renderings of the new connector are still subject to change, but they provide a pretty good picture of what to expect. The symmetrical Type C prong will measure 8.3 x 2.5 mm, visually about half the size of a standard USB port today but slightly larger than a micro USB like you find in many mobile phones. Thus, it will be slightly smaller than Apple’s Thunderbolt connectors, and it’ll handle data at about the same rate, and in case we need to say it again, there’s no such thing as wrong way up when you're plugging it in!
The first Type C devices will begin hitting the market later this year.
See the stories that matter in your inbox every morning