Apple has added specifications for Type USB-C ports and a Lightning to 3.5mm output cable so accessory makers who are a part of Made-for-iPhone/iPad/iPod (MFi) licensing program can make new types of products and sell premium goods at lower prices.
The new specs were detailed in Apple's recently updated materials for manufacturers in the MFi program, according to sources.
While this is a step in the correct direction for Apple's ever-expanding accessory ecosystem, the tech giant still doesn't allow third-party manufacturers to make Lightning to USB-C cables.
The new logos that will be used for products coming out of the MFi program are not a huge change from the previous branding, but they do notably remove icons representing actual devices in exchange for a simplified Apple logo and just the iOS device names in text. This allowed accessories to avoid bundling a cable with products and simultaneously cut down on costs since users could use the same Lightning cable that came with their iPhones for charging the accessory. Still, Apple does give you other options, as it lists on its official support pages that the fast-charging functionality of the new iPhones is certainly accessible by plugging in certain third-party USB Power Delivery (USB-PD) adapters, and combining them with an "Apple USB-C to Lightning" cable (sold separately for $25 or $35, depending on the length).
It must be noted however that even though some MFi accessories could use the USB-C port instead of Apple's Lightning connector or micro-USB, the new specs do not necessarily suggest that Apple has plans to move away from Lightning. They can also use the USB port on their Mac with the same cable to charge their Apple device. The new cable, however, would allow for a much more streamlined experience.