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Apple plans to make Thunderbolt, USB ports thinner, more durable

A patent uncovered by AppleInsider suggests Apple may be improving the I/O ports on its desktop and notebook Mac computers. The approved patent describes several design changes that make the USB or Thunderbolt ports slimmer and more aesthetically pleasing. The bulky shell enclosing could be removed and replaced with a single, seamless material that expands dynamically to fit the cable. The port could also be crafted so that it matches the color and texture of a computer giving the sides and back of the machine a smooth profile.

The patent also describes an improved manufacturing process that would eliminate any imperfections in the current port design. In a standard I/O port, finger contacts extend to meet the cable and form an electrical connection. The stamping process to create these fingers often leaves sharp edges that wear down the connection prematurely. Apple's patent would eliminate these burrs and increase the lifespan of both the cable and the computer port. This design would also give a satisfying click to let users know when their plug is seated properly.

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