With a new connector, I wonder why they're not calling it USB 4.0? It's seems really odd and confusing to call it 3.1 when 3.0 cables won't work!
USB 3.0 was the first USB protocol that I could actually edit HD over and not have to copy files locally to work on them. USB 2.0 could not handle this. I haven't tried Thunderbolt yet because it's still quite expensive but both protocols make it extremely easy to adopt an "all external drive" workflow.
It should be pointed put that "specs" and "real world" performance are very different. I have a RAID 5 enclosure with 4 disks and it has both an eSATA and USB 3.0 interface. On paper, USB 3.0 claims to be faster than eSATA but in the real worlds, I get better performance when I use the eSATA interface. So take all of these theoretical discussions with a "grain of salt".
I have all of my Final Cut Pro X projects on an external 1TB USB 3.0 drive and my throughput is actually faster than the local drive on my MacBook Pro because the local drive is 5200RPM and the external drive is 7200RPM and USB 3.0 has enough bandwidth to take advantage of this. That's the first time an external drive has been faster than a local drive for me. Having a faster USB 3.1 and Thunderbolt 3 will only make this better. IMHO, the days of the need for internal hard drives are numbered. Lately, I've only been buying external USB 3.0 drives for my video work. Once Thunderbolt drives come down in price, I'll be buying those.