Apple has obtained two patents that describe adding two-way wireless charging to the devices (via 9to5Mac). The patents, first discovered by Apple patentincludes drawings showing a MacBook charging different devices, including an iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch, as well as drawings of iPads and iPhones doing the same.
If this sounds familiar, it’s because many other phone manufacturers have released devices with similar reverse wireless charging technology. Although Apple’s take is a little different. According to the patent photos, the lid, palm rest or trackpad of a MacBook can be used to charge a wireless charging compatible iOS device.
The problem the patents claim to solve is the problem where you can find yourself without enough electrical outlets, power outlets or any power at all. The patents state that “despite having standardized connectors and cable[s], each device may require a separate or dedicated power supply to charge. In some cases it may be difficult to use, store and / or transport to have separate power supplies for each unit. (Of course, it becomes more difficult to have separate power stones for your devices when they are not included in the box.)
There are other times when this type of technology can be useful. For example, if you are away from a charger and an Apple Watch or AirPods door, it would be useful to be able to top them up with your phone. In the same way, it would be useful to be able to charge the phone from the laptop, and if Apple is really on its way to a portable iPhone, this type of technology could be a way to keep that functionality.
Right now, MacBooks and iPads are made of aluminum, which is not compatible with wireless charging. If Apple wants to include this reverse wireless charging technology in its devices, it must design that limitation. (Maybe it can bring back a plastic MacBook?)
It’s also hard to avoid thinking about Apple’s bad AirPower project when considering the idea of a MacBook or iPad filled with wireless charging coils capable of charging multiple devices at once. To be fair, Apple’s technology has evolved since then, and it now has control over the processors in all devices. It may come up with some solution to help the devices communicate and power levels and thermal constraints.
Whether you can actually use the MacBook as a wireless charging pad for all your devices remains to be seen, but I will at least see this technology come to the iPhone. Many of the competitors already have a kind of reverse wireless charging capacity, and although it would be great to see that it was turned up to 11 as in the patent drawing below, I would be happy that Apple only caught up with the competition at this point. Although it seems that the iPhone 12 has the hardware to do this, it is not currently activated.