Welcome to our weekend Apple Breakfast column, which includes all of the Apple news you missed this week in a handy bite-sized roundup. We call it Apple Breakfast because we think it goes great with a morning cup of coffee or tea, but it’s cool if you want to give it a read during lunch or dinner hours too.
Blame it on the dongle
Macworld’s review of the 10th-gen iPad went live this week (and is linked below). It’s a strange review: In many ways, it’s a positive write-up, with the attractive design, excellent cameras, and Magic Keyboard Folio support all earning sincere praise. But there were enough quibbles to knock it down to 3 stars–not least the frankly ridiculous dongle required to pair the iPad with the only version of the Apple Pencil it supports.
Dongles, which cost extra and get lost, and make everything less convenient, are understandably a sore point for Apple users, and they seem to be proliferating. Using a dongle always reminds me of what Steve Jobs said about (appropriately enough) styluses: if you see a dongle, they blew it. A dongle is a tacit acknowledgment that something has gone wrong. Either the wrong product has been bought for the job, or it was designed wrong in the first place. Apple has had plenty of dongles over the years, but the Apple Pencil adapter is particularly irritating.
1. It doesn’t even work as a Lightning to USB-C adapter
A general-use Lightning/USB-C adapter would have some utility, but as a Redditor discovered through extensive testing, the dongle appears to be a single-use product. So, if you were hoping to use the dongle to repurpose your old Lightning cables (in order to charge a USB-C iPad, for example), you’re out of luck: in fact, a standard male Lightning connection doesn’t even fit into the dongle.
2. You’ll lose it
Of course, you will. It’s tiny and it doesn’t attach to anything when not in use. And then your Apple Pencil will be useless until you pay another $9.
3. It’s there to upsell you to a better model
The dongle is very much of a piece with Apple’s general approach this year, which we’ve also seen with the weirdly cautious iPhone 14 upgrade: Buy the better model. Apple is a company that is enormously detail-oriented, and at a certain point you have to assume that the flaws in its entry-level products are not there because of managerial missteps or lack of resources, but because they want to prod you into buying something more expensive.
4. It creates more e-waste
As mentioned below, the dongle is now bundled with the 1st-gen Apple Pencil, but we have to assume that at least some of those won’t be needed (when the Pencil is bought by a 9th-gen iPad owner, for example) and will end up in a landfill. Others will be lost (see point 2) and end up in a landfill. And the fact that it doesn’t work as a general-use adapter (see point 1) will contribute to the number of Lightning cables ending up in a landfill.
Inefficient design isn’t just bad for the user—it’s bad for the environment. And if Apple cared about the environment as much as it claims, it would have found a better solution.
5. Apple’s had years to sort this out
Apple still sells the 1st-generation Apple Pencil because it still sells a Lightning iPad. The 9th-gen model is the last iPad to have a Lightning port, so as long as it’s still sold, the original Apple Pencil needs to exist. Fair enough. But the USB-C switch didn’t happen yesterday. The first USB-C iPad Pro and the 2nd-gen Pencil came out in 2018.
Given four years to plan for the change-over on the standard iPad, it’s absurd that Apple hasn’t come up with a more elegant solution than this. The most obvious would be support for the 2nd-gen Pencil, so whether it’s an engineering issue, cost issue, or upgrade issue (see point 3), the whole Lightning thing seems to have taken Apple by surprise.
6. Does Apple really need the extra money?
Apple, we keep hearing, is the most valuable company in the world, with a valuation well in excess of $2 trillion. Over the most recent quarter, Apple made the comically unimaginable sum of $90 billion, so it could probably afford to miss out on a few dollars here and there in favor of user goodwill and an improved user experience. But no: Apple loves hoovering up the nickels and dimes. It’s shoving extra ads onto the App Store, pushing up the prices of its subscription services, and now charging $9 for an adapter. (Granted, the adapter does now come free with the 1st-gen Apple Pencil, but if you bought one years ago, you’ll need to pay up.)
The USB-C to Apple Pencil Adapter is Apple’s design at its worst: We only need to use it because Apple was lazy, stubborn, and a little greedy.
This article was edited on November 14 to remove a section which said the dongle cannot be used to charge an Apple Pencil directly from mains power. In fact it can be used for this purpose.
Trending: Top stories of the week
Apple can be great or it can be Google–but it can’t be both, says Jason Snell.
The iPhone’s most promising feature is being wasted. MagSafe could have offered unique experiences, but all we got were magnets.
The Macalope is concerned about Apple’s attitude. It seems money can make anyone a jerk.
This epic M1 Mac mini-Nintendo Wii mashup is the mod of our dreams.
Even with record profits, Apple can’t buy our trust.
This Chrome feature is so good it might make us switch from Safari for good.
As Apple’s prices keep going up, where will the value come from?
There’s doom on the horizon for Apple–and ads are the only answer.
In our Apple Watch Ultra review, we look at a convincing Garmin killer–but one with downsides to consider.
Our iPad (2022) review, meanwhile, finds a beautiful disappointment.
(We’ve also compared the 2022 and 2021 iPad models, to see which standard iPad is right for you.)
Finally, our 3rd-gen Apple TV 4K review concludes that the best new feature is the price.
(On a related note, Michael Simon explains why he bought a 2021 Apple TV 4K instead of a new one.)
The rumor mill
Apple is reportedly working on a big Siri change that nobody asked for.
The next round of M2 Macs may have been pushed back to 2023.
The iPhone 15 Pro might not have any actual buttons.
The glowing Apple logo could be the next MacBook feature to make a comeback.
Podcast of the week
Apple’s iPad lineup is set for the 2022 holiday shopping season, and one thing is certain: There are a lot of models to choose from. We’re talking about the state of the iPad in this episode of the Macworld Podcast.
You can catch every episode of the Macworld Podcast on Spotify, Soundcloud, the Podcasts app, or our own site.
Software updates, bugs & problems
Apple is planning a major home screen layout change in iOS 16.2.
Apple has patched a pair of security flaws with the macOS Ventura 13.0.1 update.
Google warns all Mac users to patch a ‘high risk’ Chrome security flaw.
“Privacy concerns” have been raised over usage data collection on the App Store.
The 2nd-gen AirPods Pro just got a mysterious firmware update.
And with that, we’re done for this week. If you’d like to get regular roundups, sign up for our newsletters. You can also follow us on Twitter for breaking news stories. See you next Saturday, enjoy the rest of your weekend, and stay Appley.