Since 2012 Apple has instituted Lightning in their transfer and power connectors. The application is universal in all Apple products from mobile devices including iPhones, iPads, iPods, computers, monitors, cameras, chargers and other accessories. The power connector uses 8 pins vs 30 and can be inserted either way instead of the one side entry prior to Lightning. Therefore, it is no longer compatible with products released prior to 2012. Since 2015, it has been in use for iPhone 5-6 including the S series and Plus, iPod Touch, 4th through 6th generation, iPad Air, Apple Pencil, Beats and other Apple products. The original trademark Lightning was principally held by Harley Davidson. But Apple bought some of the trademark while Harley Davidson has kept some rights to the name.
The Lightning connector is 8 pins and carries the digital signal. It can be inserted either way. For those with older products, Apple does have adapters for chargers, computers etc. Lightning connectors certified by Apple contain a certification chip making fakes or unapproved connectors difficult. Though chip was cracked. To ensure you are getting the real thing buy directly from Apple otherwise your product might not work as it should.
Rumours swirl around the decision to use Lightning instead of mico USB. Many allure to the fact that docks and speaker systems are compatible as well as user convenience. Either way will connect the ports and that means less wear and tear on the connector sites. In addition, products approved by Apple carry the MFi label and allow Apple to collect a fee.
A new line of MacBooks have a USB Type-C port but are similar to Lightning in that either side can connect. The Type-C port and Lightning still require adapters to work.
The Lightning connector and the MacBook Type-C are the latest innovation from Apple. Look to them for more innovations in the road ahead.