USB Type-C is a new and tiny physical connector closely intertwined with other new standards, like USB 3.1 for faster speeds and USB Power Delivery for improved power-delivery over USB connections. USB Type-C can support various exciting new USB standard like USB 3.1 and USB power delivery (USB PD).
The size of USB Type-C is about third the size of USB Type-A plug. USB Type-C is a single connector standard that every device should be able to use whether you’re connecting external hard drive to laptop or charging smartphone from USB charger. The cable itself has USB Type-C connectors at both ends.
USB Type-C ports can support variety of different protocols using “alternate modes,” which allows to have adapters that can output HDMI, VGA, DisplayPort, or other types of connections from single USB port. Apple’s USB-C Digital Multiport Adapter offering an adapter that allows you to connect HDMI or VGA output, larger USB Type-A connector, and smaller USB Type-C connector via single port.
The USB Power Delivery specification for USB Type-C up to 100 watts and bi-directional, so a device can either send or receive power and power can be transferred at the same time the device is transmitting data across the connection. Apple’s new MacBook and Google’s new Chromebook Pixel both use USB Type-C ports as charging ports.
The physical USB Type-C connector isn’t backwards compatible, but the underlying USB standard is. You just need a physical adapter with USB Type-C connector on one end and and a larger, older-style USB port on another end then you can plug older devices directly into USB Type-C port.