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The Lightning connector was introduced during a special media event by Apple on September 12, 2012. The connector was introduced as a replacement for the 30-pin dock connector for all new hardware that was announced at the same event. Devices that were initially compatible with the connector were the iPhone 5, iPod Touch (5th generation), and the iPod Nano (7th generation). The iPad (4th generation) and the iPad Mini were added as Lightning devices in October 2012
Lightning is an all-digital eight-pin connector (with the metal shell serving as a ninth conductor, for ground) that can, unlike the 30-pin dock connector, Micro USB, or most other similar connectors, be inserted into the device with either side facing up. Apple sells Lightning to 30 pin and Lightning to Micro USB (2.0) adapters as well as a number of Lightning cable adapters for connection to USB (2.0) devices, HDTVs, VGA monitors, SD card readers (for photo import), etc. The Lightning to 30 pin adapter supports only a limited subset of the available 30 pin signals: USB data, USB charging, and analog audio output.
The pins in the Lightning connector span the whole depth of the plug. In other words, the leftmost pin on one side of the plug and the rightmost pin on the other side of the plug are just the top and bottom side of the same pin. Inserting the plug in one orientation is not electrically equivalent to inserting it the other way around (it is not palindromic). The plug itself incorporates a processor which detects the plug's orientation and routes the electrical signals to the correct pins. Anton Shilov from Xbit Labs suggested that this processor is also an authentication device.
Official Lightning connectors contain an authentication chip that makes it difficult for third-party manufacturers to produce compatible accessories without being approved by Apple. Nevertheless, Chinese company iPhone5mod began selling an iPhone 5 dock charging station in October 2012 and claimed that it could "bypass Apple's authentication functions" using "cracked chips".
In December 2012, Belkin became the 1st 3rd-party company to start selling lightning accessories (their line started with a car charger and dock).
Analysts have said that Lightning could, just like the 30-pin connector, be used as the standard Apple charger and data connector for a decade