Using “coded magnets” the cable described in the patent can simultanoeuly charge a device and shift information, too.According to an Apple insider:
The solution proposed by Apple is a new universal cable, much like the existing 30-pin iPod connector, but one that features programmable magnets. These coded magnets, found inside both the cable and the portable device, would share identifying information on the device with the cable.
By sharing information from the magnets about the device, the cable could appropriately connect to it and provide the correct number of pins. The application describes a controller that would repurpose one or more of the pins on a cable to connect certain communication channels.
“The magnets (would) create a universal port that detects the coded magnet ‘signature’ of a particular cable type and reconfigures itself accordingly,” the filing reads.