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Availability of Lightning vs Dock Connector Car Adapters
By Jesse Hollington | 07.17.13

Q: In the days of the 30-pin Apple Dock Connector, we had a relatively large choice of car dock/charging accessories with the integrated connector. Why is it that there now does not appear to be any such cigarette lighter/vent/suction mounts with an integrated Lightning Connector? One that I’m looking for in particular would have the Lightning Connector, an audio out port to connect to the car stereo and a cigarette lighter plug to charge the iPhone. Belkin, Kensington, Griffin, Scoshe, et al don’t seem to have anything like that. Any ideas?

- J-P

A: You aren’t likely to find car adapters with integrated audio simply because the Lightning Connector no longer provides analog audio output in the way that the Dock Connector did. This means that manufacturers can’t simply grab the audio stream from a Lightning Connector device and send it through to an audio output port; instead they would have to incorporate some time of Digital to Analog converter, increasing the complexity and likely the cost of accessories that are generally in the sub-$50 price range.

Further, the advent of Bluetooth integration as an almost-default option on most new cars has reduced the demand for adapters that provide wired audio connections, providing less of an incentive for accessory manufacturers to bring such devices to market.

In addition, car chargers that simply provide a standard USB port have been increasing in popularity, due in part to the costs and complexities of licensing the Lightning Connector from Apple and a desire to support users who may want solutions compatible with a Dock Connector or other devices. With the switch to the new connector, we no longer have the “one-size-fits-all” solution that the Dock Connector provided for many years.

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