USB-C cable alert feature should come to Mac and iPad

Google is releasing an update to Chrome OS this coming week with a very nifty new feature. As reported by our colleagues in 9to5GoogleChrome 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 working ideally for your laptop.” The alert will explain if the cable “does not support the high-performance USB4/Thunderbolt 3 standards that your Chromebook supports.” The full list of alerts includes:

  • The cable may not support displays
    • Your USB-C cable may not connect properly to displays
  • Cable can affect performance
    • Your USB-C cable is not compatible with USB4. Device performance may be limited.
    • Your USB-C cable is not Thunderbolt compatible.
    • Your device supports a higher data rate than your cable.

Why Apple Should Copy This Feature

As we have written many times here at 9to5MacDespite being sold with 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 attuned to tech specs as many of you reading this.

A simple search on Amazon reveals a wide range of different USB-C cables, many of which support different data transfer speeds, display support, and charging speeds. Your mileage will differ significantly depending on the cable you choose. This is also true at both ends of the spectrum; some of the cheaper cables won’t offer full support for the features that USB-C offers and others will overcharge and bill themselves as more premium than they really are.

The USB Implementers Forum, or USB-IF, has promised rebranding that is intended to help clear up some of the confusion surrounding different USB-C cables and standards. However, these changes do not seem to be implemented soon. And they still won’t solve the problem of accessory manufacturers not meeting the full USB-IF standards.

As confusion over USB-C standards, speeds, and features grows, Google has chosen to take matters into its own hands with the new “USB-C cable alert” feature. Alerts provide users with 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 widely adopted USB-C in many of its products along with Thunderbolt 4 as well. As its reliance on USB-C and Thunderbolt 4 increases, it should also add some sort of USB-C cable alert feature on both Macs and iPads. This feature would significantly reduce the confusion around USB-C and Thunderbolt cables, and give users a clear explanation of which cable they are using and which cable they might need to unlock more features.

In theory, Apple could even go a step further and add a similar feature for iPhone charging. In the Settings app, Apple could explain the maximum charging speed of the power supply and cable combination the iPhone is connected to, and explain how that speed might increase with a new power supply.

What do you think of this new feature of Chrome OS? Is it something that Apple should adopt in all its products and operating systems? Let us know below in the comments.

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