updated 12:15 pm EDT, Mon August 13, 2012
Connector should work in both directions
The new dock connector format Apple is working on will indeed use 9 pins, and have other improvements besides, according to sources for AppleInsider. The question of how many pins the connector will use has been in contention for a few weeks; while early reports hinted at 19 pins, more recent leaks have pointed strongly towards 8 or 9 pins instead. Apple has used a 30-pin connector for its handheld devices since the third-generation iPod.
One of the improvements is said to be the rumored ability to connect a plug in either orientation, much like the MagSafe 2 connector used for MacBooks. The sources add, though, that the new connector format should improve connectivity in a few other ways, including better transfer rates. Sync speeds have become a serious bottleneck for iPods and iOS devices as the size of apps, media libraries, and firmware updates continues to grow.
Regarding recent photos showing only 8 pins, the sources say that the ninth is actually the metal shell surrounding the connector.
By moving to such a small connector it's thought that Apple will be able to maximize the internal space and/or the thinness of its devices. The company could introduce the format across its mobile lineup at an anticipated September 12th press event.