Science & Tech

Does your USB-C cable transfer data AND power? Your OS should tell you

The USB-C standard has been long touted as a “one port to rule ‘em all” solution. Sure, it’s universal in the sense of the shape of the port. But the capabilities of a USB-C port and cable can vary widely.

Last month, I wrote about why it’s so hard to differentiate one USB-C cable from another. Experts I talked to also noted that there are very few visual markers that tell you what a USB-C cable can do — charging, data transfer, audio, video, or all of them?

We can certainly do better. And software can play a part too. Thankfully, Google’s showing the way forward with a neat new trick.

A new ChromeOS feature

Last week, Google announced a new feature in ChromeOS 102 that’ll help you identify non-compatible USB-C cables.

Here’s how it works:

If you’re using a Chromebook, you’ll now get a pop-up if you plug in a USB-C cable that’s not compatible with monitors, or has a slower data transfer rate than your device.

For instance, if your Chromebook supports USB4, and if you’re using a cable that doesn’t support the standard for quick data transfers, the device’s OS will notify you about it.

Chrome OS now displays notifications about USB-C cable.