Put on your seat belt, slide on those racing gloves, and hold on tight! USB ports just got a whole lot faster! The USB 3.0 Promoter Group, a group that includes Apple, Intel, and more, has revealed USB 3.2 specs. Anyone who transfers a lot of large files to devices like external hard drives should be excited to see where the future of USB is headed.

USB 3.2 specs
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The USB 3.2 specs promise theoretical speeds up to 20Gbps. That’s double the current speed of the existing USB 3.1 standard. Of course, your device will have to support the new USB 3.2 standard. Manufacturers will have to begin making the transition in their designs which means the first USB 3.2 devices are likely a year to two years away. Still, it’s nice to know what the future holds.

The new USB 3.2 specs open up a lot of possibilities for the USB standard. USB Type-C has slowly been rolling out in new devices with USB Type-C device shipments increasing an estimated 70% per year. Now that the speed of USB will be effectively doubled, you should begin to see even more devices sporting the standard connector.

The idea is that, eventually, USB Type-C cables will replace all other cables in your home. The port should be able to handle everything from charging to file transfer to video and audio. That tangled box of old cables you keep in your basement will soon be a thing of the past. Or, probably more accurately, it will just be a tangled box of USB Type-C cables.

If this back and forth talk about USB Type-C and USB 3.2 is confusing; you probably aren’t alone. USB Type-C refers to the physical specification of the ports, connectors, and wires. USB 3.2 refers to how the data is sent. The new USB 3.2 specs merely take advantage of the full data transfer capability of USB Type-C cables.

To put it another way… Imagine that USB Type-C is a two lane highway and USB 3.1 is a traffic officer directing cars into a single lane. The USB 3.2 specs basically remove that traffic officer and allow cars to use both lanes of the highway.

Of course, most people don’t care about the technical details. They just need to know that USB 3.2 is going to be blazing fast and, when they upgrade devices, they won’t need a whole mess of cords to make everything work together. That’s the dream.

The real challenge now is in the marketing of USB 3.2 and ensuring that people know what its capabilities and limitations are. The USB 3.0 Promoter Group will also need to educate consumers in a way that doesn’t bring in confusion about how USB Type-C fits into the new standard. There may be some work to do early on, especially with the less-technically inclined among us, but the benefits will be seen quite clearly after new devices begin rolling out.

Soon, there will be one cable to rule them all! Until then, you’ll have to stick with your measly 10Gbps transfer rate. If only the future could get here at USB 3.2 speeds.