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Plugging in a USB gadget typically entails a four-step process. The first step is to attempt to jam it in the wrong way. Step two involves reversing the orientation only to discover that you had it right the first time. Step three is to mutter a string of curse words, followed by step four, which is to reverse the orientation back to its original position so that it plugs in as intended. It's a crappy process, and it's going to be alleviated by the new USB Type-C specification that's now been finalized by the USB 3.0 Promoter Group.
What's special about USB Type-C connectors is that they're totally reversible, meaning it doesn't matter which side is up or down. It's just like Apple's Lightning connector, except the connector on each end is the same size. This seemingly simple design change is a much needed convenience, especially when fumbling around with cables in dimly lit areas or when reaching around to the back of devices trying to plug a cable in.
"Interest in the USB Type-C connector has not only been global, but cross-industry as well," said Brad Saunders (PDF), USB 3.0 Promoter Group Chairman. "Representatives from the PC, mobile, automotive and IoT industries have been knocking down our door anticipating this new standard. This specification is the culmination of an extensive, cooperative effort among industry leaders to standardize the next generation USB connector as a long-lasting, robust solution."
You won't be able to plug a USB Type-C connector directly into an existing USB port, though you can still use existing products with the new cable by way of an adapter. In that sense, USB Type-C, which will be part of the USB 3.1 standard, is backwards compatible.
Speaking of USB 3.1, the new cable and connector will support theoretical maximum transfers of up to 10Gbps while delivering up to 100W of power.