back to article iOS upgrade cocks up iPad USB connections

Apple's iOS 4.2 upgrade has prevented data being read from some USB devices because the fondle slab puts out five times less power than before. The iPad has a camera connection kit enabling pictures on SD cards in digital cameras to be transferred to the iPad. This works well with the previous iPAD O/S, iOS 3, but that has …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Steen Hive

    Say what? 20mA?

    2mA surely?

  2. nigel 15


    but that has 10ma going out to the USB device whereas iOS 4.2 only dribbles out a weak 20ma

    but that has 100ma going out to the USB device whereas iOS 4.2 only dribbles out a weak 20ma

    my nokia N8 usb hosting has 200mA. you'd think the iPad could manage the full 500

  3. Andy Neillans

    Check your units

    I think you have a typo in your figures :)

  4. Naughtyhorse

    did you use a fondle slab for them power calcs

    I think you are missing a 0 from there somewheres (100mA vs 20mA praps?)

    just a zero, which is nothing really :-)




  6. Stu
    Thumb Down

    Sod that.

    I think I'd much rather have the improved battery life, that sounds like the reason they did it.

    Apple had better not satiate the -vast minority- third party hardware crowd, thanks very much.

    1. sabroni Silver badge


      ... don't plug in any power hungry usb devices then. No reason to spoil the ability of other users to drain their batteries, is there?

  7. Grease Monkey Silver badge


    Something wrong here. If they are trying to improve battery life what they are doing is introducing a rule that says nothing that draws more than 20mA will be allowed to work with the iPad. They are limiting current to 20mA. Somebody at Apple has clearly made the incorrect decision that nothing drawing over 20mA is likely to be used with an iPad. You can't take a device that needs 50mA to operate an restrict it to 20mA and expect it to work. Somebody at Apple clearly doesn't understand that.

    The story seems to suggest that the USB ports pushed out 100mA under iOS3 regardless of the device connected. That's just plain stupid. If a device draws, say 10mA, then it will draw 10mA regardless of whether the port can deliver 10, 20, 100 or even 1000mA. So a device that draws less than 20mA now would have drawn less than 20mA under the old OS. It wouldn't have miraculously pulled 100mA before just because 100mA was available.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Are Apples management getting so megalomanical that they now want to prevent non-sactioned USB devices from connecting, as well as Flash and Android magazine apps.

      They really do appear to be getting rather paranoid.

      On the other hand, this could just be a power management software cockup, which testing should have found.

    2. MrT

      Some devices try to pull a lot more...

      ... especially when initialising. I'm thinking here of most USB external hard drives (OEM or adapter for an internal drive). Most Mac users would have a Lacie drive of some description, and likely use Firewire instead of USB for these devices - I've the Lacie Rugged and when used in most USB ports it needs the additional USB power cable to spin up, but can just about cope without it once it's up to speed (Firewire is fine on either the 400 or 800 port without any extra power).

      Having said that, how much power does a USB memory stick draw when reading/writing?

      Not that an iPad user would be trying this other one, but my Canon USB scanner draws too much even for most USB hubs - it tries to pull 700mA briefly on startup, then settles down to 500mA when in use, so only works properly from ports built directly onto a PC motherboard.

      Apart from the Lacie drive (which powers the motor constantly), most of these devices would drop to a minimal current when idle.

  8. BigCW
    Jobs Halo

    Erm, nothing is broken

    Erm, nothing is broken, the iPad camera connection kit (which is the only (official) way to attach a USB device to the iPad) continues to work fine for its intended use - i.e. to connect cameras to the iPad.

    It's not Apple's fault if it suddenly stopped working when it's being used for something it wasn't designed, nor sold, for.

    1. Anonymous Coward


      So let me get this straight. Not only are people barred from using Flash and unsanctioned apps. But now the almighty Jobs has stopped people using "unofficial" USB devices.

      Is that really what you're saying?

      Has Jobs finally lost the last bit of sanity he has left?

      1. BigCW
        Jobs Halo


        No, I'm wondering why someone is complaining that a USB microphone isn't working when connected to a camera connection kit.

      2. John Bailey

        When dealing with RDS.

        The only way to win is not to play.

        USB banjaxed.. Well.. It works for the officially sanctioned devices.

        Reception dodgy. Not holding it right, and every phone drops calls when the antenna is blocked.

        Non functional screen. The Steve is encouraging you to use your imagination.

        3 inch metal spike shoots out of the earpiece when you answer a call, The Steve is helping you, by forcing you to slow down and mellow out.

        Doorstepping god botherers, Scientologists, Apple fanboys.. Same strategy applies.

        Do not return eye contact.

        Do not engage in conversation.

        Do not attempt to reason with them.

        They win by making you want to eat your own face in order to distract from the stupid radiating from their pre programmed smiles and their pre approved talking points.

        1. Greg J Preece

          I made a similar remark this morning

          One of our sales lot e-mailed me to say her iPhone had locked up. I told her that it was a feature, not a bug, and Steve had obviously decided she'd been working too hard. ;-)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      If that's the case....

      Why did they provide a USB port on their adaptor?

      If they didn't want people to plug USB devices in there, they should have made their own connector at the iPad end and a suitable eg micro USB at the other.

      1. Ed Cooper

        If that's the case....

        Yes Apple should of provided a cable for every conceivable variation of camera USB/interface connector now and in the future. I thought Apple already included an SD card adapter as part of the kit anyway.

      2. BorkedAgain
        Jobs Horns

        Wrong type of USB.

        You're assuming that the "U" stands for "Universal".

        Mr Jobs has simply re-defined it to mean "Unsupported Serial Bus".

        There we are. All cleared up?

        Reminds me aof a joke we used to tell about MS developers. Plus ca change:

        "How many Apple designers does it take to change a light bulb?

        - None, Steve Jobs simply declares Darkness to be the new standard."

    3. BristolBachelor Gold badge

      iApple iCamera ?

      So what you are saying is that it will only work with an iApple iCamera or iApple iCompact iFlash card?

      If I want to use the iPad camera connection kit with my Canon camera, or Sandisk memory card, then out of luck?

  9. TeeCee Gold badge
    Jobs Horns

    "Using a powered USB hub apparently works as a fix."

    Yeah, right.

    So you have your mobile tablet and your mobile USB device. All you need to make it all work is a powered hub, its transformer and a convenient (but decidedly immobile) power socket........FAIL!

    That ain't a "fix". It'd even be charitable to describe it as a workaround....

    Incidently, the USB 2 spec defines a "Unit load" as 100ma and states that devices are entitled to draw up to this, until such time as they ask nicely for more in numbers of units. Sounds like Apple are also playing fast and loose with the standards here.

  10. Anonymous Coward

    Do Apple test *anything* before release?

    I think not.

    1. DZ-Jay

      Re: Do Apple test *anything* before release?

      Actually, they do. Cameras connecting to the iPad using the iPad Camera Connector Kit still work. It's not their fault that people interpreted "Camera Connector Kit" as "Generic USB device slot".


    2. Wyrdness

      How can they be expected to test everything?

      And why exactly *should* they be testing a microphone with a device that's designed and marketed as a camera connector? Should they be expected to test it with every USB device ever made, or just for its intended use?

  11. dave 46


    This is a stupid decision that harms customers or at the very least does nothing - it is not an improvement for anybody.

    It could only effect battery life if you were plugging something in that used more than 20ma, a choice you now don't have.

    Anybody that can defend the move clearly does not understand.

    I hope it's just an almighty cockup and not some attempt to limit the use of devices (oh you need an air for that sir).

  12. Snowy Silver badge

    I think

    Apple did not like you putting other devices in the slot so they fixed it.

  13. David Nine


    Because looking at the Apple web site and reading the iPad specs, I don't think I see anywhere that Apple states you can hook any USB device to it.

    They do state that you can charge the device via the Dock Connector port to an USB-connected computer, and that you can download digital camera photos via USB connected to the Apple Camera Connection Kit. But nothing about connecting USB microphones, USB printers, USB drives, etc.

    Before you go shooting Apple for changing the USB specs or violating the standard, maybe you should review that they never stated the iPad would offer it in the first place!


    1. Greg J Preece

      Hang on

      Surely if you plug a device into the iPad and it actually works, there's a driver installed to manage it? Where does the driver come from?

      Serious question - do you get that as an app? (I'd be surprised.)

      If not, then surely Apple intend for you to plug other stuff in, or they wouldn't supply the bloody drivers!

    2. Dan White

      Re: Funny

      Wow... that's a whole new level of stupid.

      Apple doesn't *have* to specify that you can hook any USB device to it. It's already part of the USB specifications. Hint - That's why there's a "U" in USB.

      If you offer a connection port with USB, you adhere to the standards laid down for that connection, otherwise it's not USB. It's now ASB, where "A" *might* stand for "Apple", but at this point it's more likely to be "A**hole" for buying one and expecting it to work properly.

  14. Anonymous Coward


    Using a powered USB HUB can be considered a kludge.

    It defeats any hindrance of using one or more objects that were not meant to work together, (or were, but are broken), albeit creating new problems while solving old ones, while being fugly and/or unpractical at the same time. Like fixing a rear view mirror to the car door with duct tape.

    But only PC users are authorized to use their brains to solve the problems they have, with whatever they have available at hand. Hence, this is not a valid solution.

    Mac users are only authorized to accept the canonical version provided by the IGod that it only exists 20mA devices sanctioned by Apple(tm), and that is not a USB port, that is the new and improved iPort, that it only allows superior hardware created by the superior technology company to work on it.

    The fact it looks like an USB port is a mere coincidence. But only trained ^H iSheep ^H Zealot technicians could tell the difference.

  15. James Hughes 1


    They can no longer claim that the port is USB, since the spec requires the port to be able to supply 100mA. Perhaps just SB now?

    Of course, they may not have claimed it was USB in the first place....

    1. D@v3

      i dont think they did.

      It is marketed (as others have stated) as a camera connection kit. Not a Apple dock to USB kit, for plugging in whatever you feel like plugging in, as well as cameras.

      It just happens to resemble a USB connector.

      1. SImon Hobson Bronze badge

        <panto season is upon us>Ohhh yes they did


        "The Camera Connector features a USB interface."

        So it's described as a USB interface, therefore it is supposed to be a USB interface. They may not intend you to use it for anything but connecting a camera, but if it doesn't supply the power that the USB spec states it has to (100mA according to earlier commenter), then it is not a USB connector as it doesn't meet the specs.

        So Apple are wrong on this one, and it was an incredibly stupid way to do it.

  16. Alan Denman

    Approved hardware only?

    Maybe it was too useful with Apple not getting a cut of the action?

    Will Apple approved stuff bypass the restriction?

  17. JaitcH

    So much for Apple batteries

    Apple is still fighting to justify lengthy battery claims.

    They messed with the RF control software and dropped calls trying economise. Now this.

    I realise that iPhans like to have decisions made for them but why not simply provide a power control panel and let the owner of the device make their own power allocation decisions?

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    remember the commandments !

    Thou shallt not connect non-apple peripherals to our iPad. ( note the wording of 'our iPad )

  19. Wrenchy

    It Just Works. Yeah right

    Isn't this "Integrated solution" supposed to eliminate issues like this? Don't they test this stuff before release?

    With all the verbal diarrhea that Jobs is spouting off about Android's "Fragmented" platform, iOS doesn't seem any better.

  20. Matthew 25


    have one. never going to get one. just keep laughing at the fanbois defending the indefencibe because its his mighty Steveness. </giggle>

  21. Prag Fest
    Jobs Halo

    It's really come to this?

    You lot crack me up.

  22. BigCW

    @Apple Haters

    Company X release product A with function M. Function N also happens to work, even though the description of product A has no mention of it. After an update, function N no longer works. Too bad, so sad.

    Confirmed Apple Fanboi here, but that doesn't mean I blindly approve of everything Apple does; I most certainly don't. But lets get some perspective here - nowhere in the description of the Camera Connection Kit does it mention USB certification, or compliance with any of the USB specifications. Nowhere in the description, or packaging, or manual, or anywhere on Apple's website does it mention USB certification or compliance with any of the USB specifications.

    It merely says it has a "USB interface" but then goes on to clearly state that this is for the intended function of connecting a digital camera. Prior commenters have said that the port cannot be described as USB as it doesn't support anything other than a camera. However, this concern can be mitigated by reading the rest of the words in the description and by understanding the meaning of the word "interface":

    A device or program for connecting two items of hardware or software so that they can be operated jointly or communicate with each other.

    Which is exactly what the camera connection kit has - a connecter for a USB cable for the purposes of connecting a digital camera. The description Apple gives could be misconstrued as inferring other uses only if the other words of the description are ignored.

    Android phones and (snicker) "tablets" feature USB ports, but on my Android phone I tried to connect my USB certified midi keyboard, and that didn't work. Gasp! Who knew?

    1. Josh 14

      Re: @Apple Haters

      The problem with your defense of Apple nerfing the "USB interface without claiming compatibility" connector is that by claiming that it has a "USB" interface, it needs to toe the line for the USB standard.

      In this case, we're addressing the stated industry standard on the power available to be drawn on a USB port.

      USB isn't an Apple protocol, a PC protocol, a Linux, or even a Sun, Intel, MS, or your grandma's protocol. It's an industry standard to prevent just this sort of idiotic hardware incompatibilities.

      For the actual specs, wander over to and take a look around. Among the 677 member companies listed in the directory, Apple is on the second page, so there is even some evidence that they understand it's a Universal Serial Bus, not the Uniquely-theirs Serial Bus.

      Apple knows all to well how to make proprietary connectors, as they've shown as recently as the iPod connector, and the extra recessed headphone connectors on the earlier iPhones.

      If they wanted it to be a iCamera only connector, they know how to make it something other than USB. By changing the game mid stride like this, either they didn't do the basic tests to see what it was going to do to the power regulation on the port, or they are playing godlings and peons again, with the consumer base being peed on, again.

      Nothing against any fan-boi in specific, and I have a few Apple devices in my possession as well, but I dislike this kind of behavior from any company or fan base. The nose in the air from the company, and the accompanying head in the sand from the fans is hard to tolerate.

      1. BigCW

        @Josh 14

        Erm, nope. If it claimed to be a USB port and carried the USB certification logo then it would have to be compliant with one or more of the USB specifications, of which there are many. The USB specifications define a number of things including the physical connector and in this case Apple have used the physical connector portion of the USB specification in order to fulfill a specific aim - to let someone connect a camera with a USB lead to the camera connection kit.

        I suppose if we were going to get more specific on the description of the hardware it should really be called "a connector which physically resembles, but is not actually, a USB port".

        However that's rather verbose, so calling it a "USB interface" whilst clearly defining its purpose should be clear enough for anyone and a forgivable compromise.

  23. bugalugs
    Jobs Horns

    Battery in " walled garden " now, too ?


  24. JeffyPooh

    Here's the cure to Apple's new policy of endless SW cock-ups

    I think I've broken the code. I figured it out by having two iPhones.

    When Apple offers you new software, don't touch it with a barge-pole for several weeks. Allow others to be the beta testers.

    I've been burned several times with defective iPhone SW updates. My painfully learned lesson is to not be first.

    Of course this applies to most SW, not just Apple. But it DOES apply to Apple too.

  25. Chris McEwam

    You are all missing the point.

    All you arguing about the fact apple does not want non apple USB devices connected is fine. I agree with that but let's face it apple sold an SD connector too and it seems only a minority of cards now work with that.

    Not just crappy cheap cards but named cards sold in apple stores have been reported not to work.

    As one who bought the camera connector kit for what it was designed to do I am bitterly disappointed that half of the kit is rendered useless to me. I prefer using the Sd connector than connecting my camera up via a cable to transfer my photos especially since both my cameras use different cables.

    The silence from Apple suggests it was a fubar rather than design.

This topic is closed for new posts.

Other stories you might like