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

Google is rolling out an update to Chrome OS this week that comes with a very nifty new feature. As reported by our colleagues at 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 Chrome OS feature will notify you when a USB-C cable you’ve connected doesn’t support certain features or “doesn’t work ideally for your laptop.” The alert will explain if the cable “does not support your Chromebook’s high performance USB4/Thunderbolt 3 standards”. The full list of alerts includes:

  • Cable may not support displays
    • Your USB-C cable may not connect properly to displays
  • Cable can affect 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 have written 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 specs as many of you reading this.

A 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 vary greatly 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 offered by USB-C and others will overcharge and charge as more premium than they actually are.

The USB Implementers Forum, or USB-IF, has promised branding changes that aim to help clear up some of the confusion surrounding the various USB-C cables and standards. These changes, however, don’t seem to be rolling out any time soon. And they still won’t solve the problem of accessory manufacturers not complying with full USB-IF standards.

As 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. Alerts provide users with a simple explanation of the functionality of the USB-C cable they are using, including why it may not work for certain connectivity needs.

Apple has also widely adopted USB-C on many of its products alongside Thunderbolt 4. As it increases its reliance on USB-C and Thunderbolt 4, it is also expected to add some sort of warning feature. USB-C cable on Mac and iPad. This feature would greatly reduce 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.

Theoretically, Apple could even take it a step further and add a similar feature for iPhone charging. In the Settings app, Apple could explain the maximum charging speed of the cable and power supply 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 Chrome OS feature? Is this something that Apple should adopt in all its products and operating systems? Let us know in the comments.

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Steven L. Nielsen