The USB-C cable wake feature is a must-have for Macs and iPads

Google is rolling out an update to Chrome OS this week that comes with a very neat new feature. As reported by our colleagues at 9to5GoogleChrome OS 102 includes USB-C Cable Alert, a feature that Apple should iterate across the board for its products…

This new Chrome OS feature will alert you when the USB-C cable you plug in doesn’t support certain features or “doesn’t work perfectly for your laptop.” The alert will state if the cable “does not support the high-performance USB4 / Thunderbolt 3 standards supported by your Chromebook.” The full list of alerts includes:

  • The cable may not support displays
    • The USB-C cable may not be connected to the monitors properly
  • The cable may 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 should Apple copy this feature

As we have written about several times here at 9to5MacDespite selling on a universal connector, the world of USB-C cables is still very confusing. This is especially the case for everyday Mac and iPad users who don’t conform to the tech specs like many of you reading this.

A simple Amazon search 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 based on the cable you choose. This is also true on both ends of the spectrum; Some of the cheaper cables won’t fully support the features that USB-C offers and others will overcharge and impose themselves as more premium than they really are.

The USB Implementers Forum, or USB-IF, has promised trademark changes intended to help clear some of the confusion surrounding the various USB-C cables and standards. However, it doesn’t look like these changes will be rolled out soon. And they still haven’t been able to solve the problem of accessory makers who don’t comply with the full USB-IF standards.

As confusion over USB-C standards, speeds, and features continues to grow, Google has chosen to take matters into its own hands with its new USB-C Cable Alert. The alerts give users a simple explanation of the feature of the USB-C cable they’re using, including why it doesn’t work for certain connectivity needs.

Apple has widely adopted USB-C in many of its products along with Thunderbolt 4 as well. As it increases its reliance on USB-C and Thunderbolt 4, some kind of USB-C cable wake feature should also be added on both the Mac and iPad. This feature will greatly reduce confusion about 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.

In theory, Apple could take this a step further and add a similar feature for charging the iPhone. In the Settings app, Apple can explain the cable’s maximum charging speed and the set of power bricks the iPhone is connected to, and explain how that speed can get faster with a new power brick.

What do you think of the new Chrome OS feature? Is it something Apple should embrace across its products and operating systems? Let us know in the comments.

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