The USB Type-C specification was finalized on Wednesday and now heads off to the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF). This specification, first announced last December (pdf), describes a new type of connector that is similar to a USB 2.0 Micro-B port in size, but it is shaped in such a way that -- similar to Apple's Lightning cable -- it doesn't matter which side is up when plugged in.
The USB 3.0 Promoter Group indicated that the new specification will be great for tablets and laptops and ideal for smartphones with slim form factors. This solution supports 10 Gbps (USB 3.1) speeds and provides a USB power delivery up to 100 watts thanks to the USB Power Delivery specification.
The mechanical specifications show that the receptacle opening measures roughly 8.4 x 2.6 mm. That means a USB Type-C cable will not plug into a USB port installed in today's devices. But that's not a huge deal, as there will be adapters and "new-to-existing" cables fitting all USB sizes when Type-C cables begin to hit the market.
The group provides an example of how the new Type-C could be used, describing a dock that has one Type-C connector for powering a connected notebook. There's also a hub within this dock for connecting several screens that stream video with additional bandwidth left over for other things like peripherals and more.
"The release of the USB Type-C specification is the final piece in developing a single-cable solution. The combination of SuperSpeed USB 10 Gbps and USB Power Delivery up to 100W with the slim, user-friendly USB Type-C connector provides endless possibilities," the press release said.
A knee-jerk reaction to this news may be skepticism over whether we really need another USB cable, but that's not what's happening here -- this spec is designed to replace them all. Of course, the rollout in devices will be slow, hence the special adapters and cords for "legacy" USB devices.