Apple is reportedly working to develop a new wireless charging technology which could feature in the iPhone as soon as 2017.

Currently the Apple Watch is the only product in Apple’s lineup to feature wireless charging – but it uses a more conventional inductive method that requires contact with the charging station. The report from Bloomberg says that Apple is working with partners in the US and Asia to develop a new kind of wireless charging that works over longer distances, potentially meaning your phone could automatically power up when you’re sat remotely close to a dock or charging station.

The Apple Watch currently supports wireless charging

The Apple Watch currently supports wireless charging

There are technological hurdles to overcome – including “loss of power over distance,” but if Apple can succeed in wireless charging that isn’t reliant on proximity to a stand, it could be a feature that helps a future iPhone stand out over the competition. The company has a long history of arriving late to the game with certain technologies, but eventually implementing them better than the competition. Perhaps we’ll see a similar pattern with wireless charging.

Apple filed a patent for a new inductive charging technology as recently as October, although this latest report implies the company is exploring more than one different wireless charging avenues. There’s no guarantee when we’ll first see this technology implemented into iPhones and iPads, but rival smartphone makers have been using some form of wireless charging tech for several years now and Apple risks falling behind if it continues to dawdle.