54 days after Apple unveiled its new Lightning connector to the world, the first third-party accessories have arrived. Belkin today announced that both a car charger and dock compatible with the latest line of iOS hardware will be available in mid-November, each priced at $29.99. We're somewhat perplexed by the car charger: Belkin has taken the bizarre step of replacing the USB port found on previous iterations with a hardwired Lightning cable. Whether this change was orchestrated by Apple as part of new Lightning certification policies or merely Belkin's own doing isn't clear and we've reached out for comment. It makes for a significant reduction in device compatibility however, a shame considering the 10-watt, 2.1-amp charger would otherwise be capable of juicing up any number of gadgets in a hurry.
Compatible with Apple devices only
And while Apple has shown little interest in developing a dock for its latest handset, Belkin is attempting to fill the void with its Charge + Sync Dock. There's just one problem: you'll need to supply your own Lightning cable to use it. Belkin isn't including one in the box — another strange decision from a company that has traditionally included such pack-ins. Apple's repositioning of the iPhone headphone jack works well here, as a passthrough auxiliary jack lets you continue listening to content while the device is seated in the dock. An open design also ensures compatibility with whatever case you may be using.
These first third-party products with Apple's stamp of approval come days ahead of a Lightning summit where the company is expected to outline further details for accessory manufacturers. We should have a better sense of what Apple is and isn't allowing under the program in the days and weeks ahead. But at least the six-week wait for something as simple as a car charger is finally over.