Charging Changes

The European Union has just issued a requirement that electronic devices standardize their charging connectors and they’ve chosen the USB-C connector as the new standard. Because the EU is such a large market for electronic devices this means that manufacturers will be adopting the standard world-wide, including in the US.

This means that laptops, phones and other devices that use external chargers must migrate to USB-C connections over the next couple of years.

The current M1 apple notebooks already use USB-C as their charging connector, but even so, Apple isn’t happy that they will be forced to abandon the current lightning connector used on iPhones and iPads, at least for the European market. It remains to be seen if they will ultimately produce devices with different connectors for the European market than they sell here in the U.S.

Europe already requires all phones to be able to be charged with a USB-micro connector, but there’s a loophole in the rule that enables Apple to comply by including a USB-micro to lightning adapter with each iPhone sold to customers in Europe. The new rule appears written to foreclose that possibility.

EU studies show that EU residents currently dispose of 11,000 metric tons of charging cables each year and the rule is expected to dramatically reduce that number. Margrethe Vestager, the executive vice president for a Digital Europe, said in a press release, “European consumers have been annoyed for long enough by the accumulation of incompatible chargers in their drawers. We have given the industry plenty of time to come up with its own solutions, but now the time has come for legislative action in favor of a universal charger. This is a significant gain for our consumers and our environment, in line with our ecological and digital ambitions.”

But there may be a loophole Apple can slip through in the new rule too. The rule only seems to apply to devices with charging connectors. If Apple switches to wireless charging as used on the Apple Watch then they can build a phone with no connectors at all.

Processor Progression

Apple recently completed the shift from Intel X86 processors to their new family of M1 RISC chips. RISC is an acronym for Reduced Instruction Set Computer.

This is the third time Apple has switched the Macintosh to a new instruction set architecture. The first was from the Motorola 68000 series to PowerPC chips in 1994 and the second from PowerPC to Intel processors using the x86 architecture in 2005–2006.

With the shift from the Motorola 68000 series to the PowerPC, Apple introduced a new Macintosh O/S, System 7 (Later renamed MacOS 7).

On the last day of March this year, Mihai Parparita released two utterly spectacular web-based emulation systems that can run System 7 and it’s successor MacOS 8 in a browser. There’s a demo on YouTube, and you can try them yourself at https://system7.app and https://macos8.app. Each has some pre-installed apps, including Adobe’s Photoshop 3. You can drag and drop files from your desktop to the browser and edit them in the emulation. Uploading and downloading files is supported as well as session-to-session persistent storage.

Read details about the current state of the project, and the work on which it is based in Mihai’s blog.