In a report shared today by BloombergApple’s team is apparently still working on some spiritual successor to the doomed AirPower math project. In the years since AirPower’s announcement (and cancellation), third-party accessory manufacturers have achieved multi-device Qi charging in various ways, although the promised ability to charge an iPhone, Apple Watch and AirPods on the same pad remains AirPower fiction. Apple’s current best attempt is the MagSafe Duo accessory, but it’s clearly nothing as elegant as a simple seamless charging mat.
The report says that Apple is also in the research and development stages regarding real wireless charging technology. That is, to be able to send current over the air over short distances ̵
The AirPower project is one of the biggest embarrassments in Apple’s recent history. The accessory was first announced as part of the iPhone X keynote in 2017, promised to arrive in 2018. Apple SVP Phil Schiller even said that “Apple knows how to do this” and will contribute to the standard Qi body to create more devices wireless charging ubiquitous.
However, the AirPower mat was never released. Rumors spread the spectrum from the device, and simply did not work to horror stories, including regularly burning AirPower mat prototypes. 9to5Mac understands that Apple eventually produced reliable prototypes, but the complex technology that went into the product made the costs impractical and the production yields low. The product was officially canceled in March 2019.
Apple is clearly invested in wireless charging technologies, as many expect to want to design an iPhone without ports at all at some point in the future. In fact, Ming-Chi Kuo once said that a portless iPhone was coming as soon as this year. However, these rumors have fizzled out.
To date, Apple has added Qi charging to its entire iPhone series, launched MagSafe charging last year with the iPhone 12, and it is now rumored that it will also bring wireless charging to the iPad.
Beyond the inductive charging situation, Bloomberg notes Apple is really exploring wireless charging solutions, but that a viable shipping product including this technology is still many years away. At least in the consumer area, real wireless charging has so far been reserved for technical demos at conferences such as CES.
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