Google is rolling out an update to Chrome OS this week that comes with a very nifty new feature. As reported by our colleagues over at 9to5Google, Chrome OS 102 includes a new “USB-C cable alert” feature, and it’s a feature that Apple should absolutely replicate across the board for its products…
This new feature in Chrome OS will alert you when a USB-C cable you’ve connected doesn’t support certain features or “isn’t performing ideally for your laptop.” The alert will explain if the cable “doesn’t support the high-performance USB4/Thunderbolt 3 standards that your Chromebook does.” The full list of alerts includes:
Cable may not support displays
Your USB-C cable may not connect to displays properly
Cable may impact performance
Your USB-C cable does not support USB4. Device performance may be limited.
Your USB-C cable does not support Thunderbolt.
Your device supports a higher data rate than your cable.
Why Apple should copy this feature
As we’ve written about many times here at 9to5Mac, despite selling on a universal connector, the world of USB-C cables is still very, very confusing. This is especially the case for everyday Mac and iPad users who aren’t as in tune with the tech specifications like many of you reading this are.
A simple search on Amazon reveals a wide array of different USB-C cables, many of which support varying different data transfer speeds, display support, and charging speeds. Your mileage will significantly differ based on which cable you choose. This is also true on both ends of the spectrum; some of the cheaper cables won’t offer full support for the features the USB-C offers and others will overcharge and bill themselves as being more premium than they really are.
The USB Implementers Forum, or USB-IF, has promised branding changes that aim to help clear up some of the confusion surrounding different USB-C cables and standards. These changes, however, don’t appear to be rolling out anytime soon. And they still won’t solve the problem of accessory makers who don’t conform to the full USB-IF standards.
As the confusion around USB-C standards, speeds, and features continues to grow, Google has chosen to take matters into its own hands with the new “USB-C cable alert” feature. The alerts provide users a simple explanation of the feature of the USB-C cable they are using, including why it might not work for certain connectivity needs.
Apple has broadly adopted USB-C on many of its products alongside Thunderbolt 4 as well. As it increases its reliance on USB-C and Thunderbolt 4, it too should add some sort of USB-C cable alert feature on both Mac and iPad. This feature would significantly reduce confusion around USB-C and Thunderbolt cables, and give users a clear explanation of what cable they are using and what cable they might need to unlock more features.
Theoretically, Apple could even take this a step further and add a similar feature for iPhone charging. In the Settings app, Apple could explain the top charging speed of the cable and power brick combination the iPhone is connected to, and explain how that speed could get faster with a new power brick.
What do you think of this new Chrome OS feature? Is it something Apple should adopt across its products and operating systems? Let us know down in the comments.
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