Apple has reportedly given third-party manufacturers of accessories the go-ahead to start incorporating its proprietary Lightning connector into their products. 9to5Mac reports that the announcement was made at Apple’s annual briefing for accessory makers that are part of the company’s MFi Program.
Launched in 2005, the MFi Program covers the use of Made for iPhone/iPod/iPad logos on products as well as licensing for Apple-made connectors and AirPlay.
Once accessory manufacturers are able to make cases, docks, battery packs and more that use the previously Apple-exclusive Lightning port, they can hopefully cut down on the number of cables and ports necessary for their products to function (9to5Mac cites battery packs that require a separate USB charging cable as an example).
The news was confirmed alongside the unveiling of a new, smaller Lightning connector that shrinks the connector housing down to fit a wider range of devices including cases. This is scheduled to ship to OEMs early next year.