AirPower (charging mat)

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AirPower
Apple AirPower.jpg
AirPower promotional image
DeveloperApple Inc.
TypeWireless charging mat
Release dateAnnounced for early 2018, cancelled in 2019

AirPower is an unreleased wireless charging mat developed by Apple Inc. It was designed to charge up to three devices simultaneously, supporting two Qi devices, such as an iPhone and AirPods, and an Apple Watch. It was announced on September 12, 2017. Originally planned to be released in early 2018, AirPower failed to materialize, leading to wide speculation over the product's future, until Apple announced on March 29, 2019 it had cancelled the release.[1]

Development[edit]

AirPower was announced on September 12, 2017 at a media event held at Apple's Steve Jobs Theater, in conjunction with the announcement of the iPhone 8, iPhone X, and Wireless Charging Case for AirPods.[2][3] Following the event, prototype models were available to attendees for hands-on testing.[4]

Issues[edit]

Immediately after another media event held the following September, Apple removed almost all mentions of AirPower from its website.[5] There were reportedly several development issues that led to this decision, with heat management, inter-device communication and speed, and mechanical and interference issues all being rumored.[6] Reportedly, the main engineering issue came from including coils for two charging standards, as the Apple Watch uses a proprietary non-Qi standard.[7] Blogger John Gruber, known for his close connections with Apple, wrote that he had heard of issues with the device’s design: "Something about the multi-coil design getting too hot — way too hot. There are engineers who looked at AirPower’s design and said it could never work thermally."[8]

AirPower was still mentioned in the packaging of several Apple products, including iPhone XS and iPhone XR,[9] and in January 2019 media outlets reported that AirPower may have entered production.[10] On March 25, 2019, Apple released iOS 12.2 with support for AirPower. On March 26, 2019, Apple shipped the Wireless Charging Case for AirPods featuring AirPower on the packaging. Also in late March, Apple secured a trademark on the AirPower name.[11]

However, on March 29, 2019, Dan Riccio, Apple’s senior vice president of Hardware Engineering, said in a statement emailed to TechCrunch: "After much effort, we’ve concluded AirPower will not achieve our high standards and we have cancelled the project."[12] The move was unprecedented for Apple as it had never previously cancelled an announced hardware product.[13]

In 2020, interest in the product was renewed, when new rumors surfaced that the project was restarted, and prototyping was underway. The prototypes reportedly use an Apple A11 SoC to help with heat management.[14] However, no other information has been revealed.

Third party accessory makers mimicked AirPower's design and functionality but were unable to fully replicate Apple's planned features, such as freely placing devices.[15] Apple later sold three-device chargers designed by Mophie and Belkin with the ability to simultaneously charge two Qi devices and an Apple Watch, albeit with a separate receptacle for Apple Watch's inductive charger.[16][17] Apple released its first Qi chargers in 2020 using the propriety MagSafe standard.[18]

Specifications[edit]

Hardware[edit]

The AirPower concept was based on the Qi standard. Apple had intended for it to be capable of charging multiple devices simultaneously, a feature not supported by the Qi standard, though Apple was working towards incorporating it.[19][20][21] Apple's intention was that an iPhone being charged would display on its lock screen the charging percentage of other devices being charged, such as AirPods and their charging case which do not have a display.[20]

Devices would not need to be carefully aligned on the charging mat due to the presence of over twenty charging coils, which could charge a device regardless of exact position.[20] However, these charging coils in close proximity ran too hot, requiring the charging mat to require power management. The overheating has been one of the reasons attributed to the product's development issues and eventual cancellation.[22]

Compatibility[edit]

AirPower was intended to be compatible with the following devices:[6][23]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Panzarino, Matthew (2019-03-29). "Apple cancels AirPower product, citing inability to meet its high standards for hardware". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2019-03-29.
  2. ^ "The future is here: iPhone X" (Press release). Apple. September 12, 2017. Retrieved 2017-09-12.
  3. ^ "Apple iPhone 8 event live blog". The Verge. September 12, 2017. Retrieved 2017-09-12.
  4. ^ "Where the heck is Apple's AirPower wireless charging mat?". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2019-11-18.
  5. ^ "After No Sign of AirPower at Today's Event Apple Wipes Most Mentions From Website, however the latest iPhone XS models come with a guide which mentions AirPower". Retrieved 2018-09-14.
  6. ^ a b Loyola, Roman (September 17, 2018). "Apple AirPower wireless charging pad: Overheating, engineering issues could doom it forever". MacWorld. IDG. Retrieved 2018-10-21.
  7. ^ Su, Jean Baptiste. "2 Reasons Why Apple Canceled Its AirPower Wireless Charging Mat: Analysis". Forbes. Retrieved 2019-10-31.
  8. ^ "Thoughts and Observations on Apple's iPhone XS/XR and Series 4 Apple Watch Introductory Event". Daring Fireball.
  9. ^ AirPower referenced in iPhone XS packaging, iOS 12.1 code shows continuing development. 9to5Mac.
  10. ^ Nield, David (13 January 2019). "The Apple AirPower mat is reportedly entering mass production at last". TechRadar. Retrieved 13 January 2019.
  11. ^ Apple Secures Rights to AirPower Trademark Amid Launch Rumors. MacRumors.
  12. ^ Mayo, Benjamin (2019-03-29). "Apple AirPower mat cancelled, Apple says unable to meet its own standards of quality". 9to5Mac. Retrieved 2019-03-29.
  13. ^ Apple Cancels Plan for AirPower Wireless Charger. Bloomberg.
  14. ^ "AirPower wireless charging pad project reignited with A11 chip to manage heat issues". Cult of Mac. 2020-04-10. Retrieved 2020-05-05.
  15. ^ AirPower may not have shipped yet, but it hasn’t been cloned either. 9to5Mac. 27 August 2018.
  16. ^ Apple is now selling the AirPower, basically, only it’s not made by Apple. ArsTechnica. 9 August 2019.
  17. ^ "Belkin Launches New Special Edition Boost Wireless Chargers". MacRumors. Retrieved 2020-07-20.
  18. ^ Statt, Nick (2020-10-14). "Apple's revived MagSafe charging standard opens the door for a portless iPhone". The Verge. Retrieved 2020-11-06.
  19. ^ Villas-Boas, Antonio (September 12, 2017). "Apple's new wireless charger was intended to charge the new iPhones, Apple Watch, and AirPods at the same time". Business Insider. Retrieved 2017-09-15.
  20. ^ a b c Etherington, Darrell (September 12, 2017). "Apple reveals AirPower wireless charging pad coming in 2018". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2017-09-15.
  21. ^ Carmam, Ashley (September 12, 2017). "The iPhone 8 supports wireless charging". The Verge. Retrieved 2017-09-15.
  22. ^ "Apple cancels AirPower product, citing inability to meet its high standards for hardware". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2019-03-29.
  23. ^ "All three 2018 iPhones to support wireless charging, AirPower mat to cost $150, rumors say". AppleInsider. Retrieved 2018-08-13.