Recognize the name “AirPower”? We’d forgive you if not; Apple first announced the wireless charging mat way back in 2017 at the launch of the iPhone 8 and hasn’t mentioned it since. AirPower’s announced release window then came and went, with almost all references to the device removed from Apple’s website and documentation, leading an anonymous internal source to describe the project as “doomed to failure“.
The mat was designed to provide wireless charging capabilities to up to three Apple devices simultaneously (iPhone; Apple Watch; AirPods) but it seems as though achieving that is easier said than done. Here’s what we said last September regarding the design and production troubles facing Apple:
According to “multiple internal sources,” three main issues have made things difficult for Apple’s dev team. Firstly, the charger in its current iteration is prone to overheat, which can not only damage devices in contact with it but can wear down the internal charging chip, too. Secondly, it’s proving harder than expected to communicate with and recharge multiple devices at once, as was the original plan for AirPower. Thirdly, the three distinct power coils – required for the differing power needs of iPhone, Apple Watch, and AirPods – are causing interference with one another that can’t easily be solved without making the device considerably bigger.
A second chance?
We have to admit, we thought we’d never hear of AirPower again. But several reports and rumors have flown in over the last few weeks that give renewed hope to those not content with third-party wireless chargers. According to DigiTimes, information from the supply chain suggests we’ll finally see AirPower launch this year: “Glass passivated package (GPP) bridge rectifier orders for Apple’s AirPower continue to pull in, according to sources at related suppliers, who expect shipments for the wireless charger to boost further once it becomes available later in 2019.”
We’re not going to hold our breath, but this is a welcome positive turn for a product that could be great if it lives up to its original promise. With Apple’s release last week of new battery cases for iPhone, perhaps AirPower will soon follow.