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Thunderbolt ports offer high speed connections to devices like external monitors, storage systems and multiport docks. They also can be used to attach charging cables. It’s an Intel technology, but Apple has championed it over the last decade with its Macs.
Looking at the side of a device, you likely won’t notice a difference between Thunderbolt and USB-C. Thunderbolt adopted USB-C’s physical connector, making it easier for device makers to add Thunderbolt support without requiring an unusual port on the side of a laptop.
The USB alignment also means Thunderbolt is more likely to make its way to mobile devices. Previously, device designers shunned its requirements for chip circuitry, power consumption and extra cost. But supporting USB 4 means it’s more likely to spread.
Apple will be launching a series of new iPads in April, a report Wednesday said. The new iPad Pros will come with Apple’s home-made M1 chips, a Thunderbolt port and better cameras and screens, according to Bloomberg. They will reportedly come in 11- and 12.9-inch display sizes.
Apple is expected to hold its next big product event later this month, Apple leaker Jon Prosser said last week. The product announcement, which could include devices like the long-rumored smart tracker tag, the AirPods 3 and the iPad Pro update, will reportedly take place March 23.
An iPad boost for Thunderbolt?
Last fall, Apple unveiled a new line of Macs powered by its in-house M1 chips, the iPhone 12 lineup, the Apple Watch 6 and several new iPads. Apple is also rumored to be working on an AR/VR headset and smart glasses. Apple recently revealed it has discontinued the iMac Pro.
Thunderbolt has arrived only on personal computers so far — Apple Macs and premium Windows machines — but it’s spreading. It could get help from the new USB 4, which gets better speed and flexibility by incorporating Thunderbolt technology behind the scenes. With Thunderbolt technology built in, device makers can offer Thunderbolt support as long as they pass necessary certification tests. Apple’s first USB 4 support arrived with its M1-powered Macs.
Apple didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
The updated tablets could come as people continue working and learning remotely amid the COVID-19 pandemic.