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Mysterious Apple network adapter hits the FCC – and it runs iOS

Published May 23rd, 2022 7:31AM EDT
Apple Studio Display Main
Image: Christian de Looper for BGR

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Apple should launch several iOS and iPadOS devices later this year, including the iPhone 14 and new iPads models. The iPads run iPadOS, but that’s just the name Apple uses for the tablet-optimized version of iOS. With that in mind, we don’t expect to see any other iOS devices in stores, yet the FCC just revealed the existence of a mysterious Apple Network Adapter that runs the operating system.

Apple’s mysterious iOS device

Apple filed documents with the FCC a few days ago that 9to5Mac surfaced. They describe a Network Adapter that’s identified as A2557.

The product has two Gigabit Ethernet ports, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and NFC antennas, and a USB-C port. Furthermore, the Apple device features 32GB of storage and 1.5GB of RAM. The gadget also packs a battery.

More interestingly, a second version of the product features a Lightning connector instead of a USB-C. It also runs on just 1GB of RAM.

Furthermore, the Apple Network Adapter runs firmware 19F47, or an early version of iOS 15.5.

The FCC doesn’t reveal additional details about the unreleased Apple product, and there’s a non-disclosure agreement in place until November 2022. That might be when the gadget is released, but that’s just speculation at this point.

Diagram shows Apple's mysterious Network Adapter (EUT - Equipment Under Test) used during FCC tests.
Diagram shows the mysterious Apple Network Adapter (EUT – Equipment Under Test) used during FCC tests. Image source: FCC

What is the Network Adapter good for?

The FCC documentation notes the agency tested the accessory connected to a MacBook Pro and an iMac. This indicates that we’re looking at some sort of Mac accessory. But it’s not clear what it might be.

What’s puzzling is that the device features a battery, yet it should to work connected to a host computer. “The device is intended to be connected to a host computer and receive its power through a USB-A port during normal use,” the documentation explains.

Diagrams like the one above appear in the documentation, although this doesn’t help explain what the Apple Network Adapter is suitable for.

Apple does use iOS to power the smart features of its Smart Display. But that’s a computer monitor, which the documentation would likely identify as such.

9to5Mac speculates that the unreleased product might be a device that Apple plans to use internally. If that’s the case, it’ll never see the light of day. One other possibility is that we’re looking at some sort of AirPort replacement. Apple hasn’t released a new model in years.

We’ll also add that Apple is reportedly working on a cheaper Apple TV device. But that device would be running on tvOS. And Network Adapter isn’t exactly the right descriptor for such an Apple device.

More iPhone coverage: For more iPhone news, visit our iPhone 14 guide.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.

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