Developed at roughly the same time as the USB 3.1 specification, but distinct from it, the USB Type-C Specification 1.0 was finalized in August 2014 and defines a new small reversible-plug connector for USB devices. The Type-C plug connects to both hosts and devices, replacing various Type-A and Type-B connectors and cables with a standard meant to be future-proof, similar to Apple Lightning and Thunderbolt. The 24-pin double-sided connector provides four power/ground pairs, two differential pairs for USB 2.0 data bus (though only one pair is implemented in a Type-C cable), four pairs for high-speed data bus, two "sideband use" pins, and two configuration pins for cable orientation detection, dedicated biphase mark code (BMC) configuration data channel, and VCONN +5 V power for active cables. Type-A and Type-B adaptors and cables are required for older devices to plug into Type-C hosts. Adapters and cables with a Type-C receptacle are not allowed.
Full-featured USB Type-C cables are active, electronically marked cables that contain a chip with an ID function based on the configuration data channel and vendor-defined messages (VDMs) from the USB Power Delivery 2.0 specification. USB Type-C devices also support power currents of 1.5 A and 3.0 A over the 5 V power bus in addition to baseline 900 mA; devices can either negotiate increased USB current through the configuration line, or they can support the full Power Delivery specification using both BMC-coded configuration line and legacy BFSK-coded VBUS line.
Alternate Mode dedicates some of the physical wires in the Type-C cable for direct device-to-host transmission of alternate data protocols. The four high-speed lanes, two sideband pins, and—for dock, detachable device and permanent cable applications only—two USB 2.0 pins and one configuration pin can be used for Alternate Mode transmission. The modes are configured using VDMs through the configuration channel.