This week was one of several annual "Apple Days" where Apple unveils a collection of new products. This month's event was focused on Apple's computers and tablets. While the company announced new laptops and a refreshed (after 4 years) Mac Mini, the real hero of the event was even smaller than the company's tiny desktop. In fact, it was smaller than an inch: Apple replaced the Lightning connector on the iPad Pro!
While that might not seem like a big deal, it is important to note that in nearly 2 decades of portable products, Apple has only updated the connector twice previously. The iPod premiered with Firewire, which was a technology dead on arrival. They replaced it with the 32-pin connector, which lasted for a decade, but was itself replaced by Lightning. All of these connectors have been Apple-focused (Firewire was a standard, but it was never widely adopted outside of Mac).
This change, however, is not Apple-focused. In fact, the company ditched Lightning for USB-C. Yes, that is the same connector on the HP Elite x3 (Windows Phone), Samsung Galaxy S8 (Android) and beyond, and more. This port is the defacto standard in the industry, being able to universally charge phones, tablets, laptops, and a host of other devices. In fact, we are currently reviewing Bluetooth headphones that charge over USB-C. This brings Apple into the same world with the rest of the industry for the first time - ever. This is not to say Apple has completely eschewed standards - in fact, Apple was one of the leaders in adopting USB-C for the MacBooks.
Unfortunately, the iPad Pro does not support everything that USB-C can do. The device billed as the Apple tablet for creators will not allow those creators to connect external storage. That will prevent photographers from using the tablet to edit photos without bringing a computer with them, which negates the value of the tablet. It prevents video editors from using the device without a computer, again making the tablet less than valuable.
Ideally, this limitation will be removed by Apple at some point in the future. Lightning used to prevent external storage, but now there are many storage options for Lightning.