Work has begun on a new generation of USB that will break compatibility with existing connectors in order to improve ease of use and allow for thinner devices. The new connector, called Type-C, is an addition to the existing USB 3.1 specification and is expected to be finalized by the middle of 2014. There aren't any images available yet, but Type-C will be around the size of a Micro USB plug and, like Apple's Lightning connector, will finally be reversible — in other words, no more frustrated attempts to charge your phone with an upside-down cable.
"This is the only connector one will need across all devices.”
In a press release, USB 3.0 Promoter Group chairman Brad Saunders says that Type-C will "meet evolving design trends in terms of size and usability” while allowing for future scalability in charging and data transfer. Type-C "will enable an entirely new super-thin class of devices from phones to tablets, to 2-in-1s, to laptops to desktops,” says Alex Peleg of Intel. “This new industry standards-based thin connector delivering data, power, and video is the only connector one will need across all devices.”
Since Type-C is an entirely new connector, the USB 3.0 Promoter Group will also have to include a specification for adapters and cables so that the countless USB chargers out there aren't immediately rendered obsolete. But the need for a new USB port is in many ways overdue, as recently highlighted by Apple's sleek Lightning connector and devices like the Galaxy Note 3 with its speedy but clumsy and oversized Micro USB 3 port.