Apple Airpower

Overheating, engineering issues could doom Apple’s AirPower forever

Image: Apple

17 September 2018

After last week’s iPhone event came and went with nary a mention of AirPower Apple went ahead and removed all mention of it from its website. The Internet has since been bubbling with rumors about where the charging mat could be. John Gruber – writer of the Apple-centric blog Daring Fireball – says he “wouldn’t be surprised if it’s been scrapped” and other people in the know have said that Apple reps refuse to speak about the device when asked.

Now tech blogger Sonny Dickson has gone on record with information from “multiple internal sources” saying the product is, indeed, in trouble. According to Dickson, the problem is actually threefold, with heat management, inter-device communication and speeds, and mechanical and interference issues all presenting obstacles to AirPower’s development.

According to Dickson, AirPower hasn’t yet been scrapped, though it is “highly unlikely” it will launch before the end of 2018, its original release window. In fact, Dickson says the AirPower concept and trademark are likely to be applied to an all new product releasing sometime next year.

What is AirPower?
AirPower is a wireless charging pad. There are several wireless charging pads on the market, but before the iPhone 8 and iPhone X, you had to use a special case with your iPhone in order to use a wireless charging pad.

AirPower works without the need of a special case. Just plop your iPhone on to the AirPower pad, and it starts charging. No need to plug in your iPhone.

How does the AirPower work?
Place the AirPower pad on your desk or wherever you like to charge your devices. Then plug it into a power outlet. To charge your device, just place it on the mat, with front facing up. That’s it.

To get a little but more technical, AirPower uses induction, where an electromagnetic field is used to transfer power from (in this case) the AirPower to a device. When you place your device on the AirPower, it receives a signal from the pad to basically ‘handshake” with the device (checks for compatibility, charge capacity, etc). If everything checks out, charging proceeds.

Can my iDevice work with AirPower?
Only three iPhones work with AirPower: iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X. These iPhones not only have glass backs (as opposed to the aluminum backs of the iPhone 6 and 7), but they also have the hardware support to charge wirelessly.

The current iPads (as of September 2017) are not compatible with AirPower. It seems as though a glass back is required, and a glass back as big as one for the iPad would be expensive, heavy, and perhaps too fragile to use.

AirPower works with the Apple Watch Series 3.

Can my AirPods work with AirPower?
They can, but you need the new AirPod case that Apple introduced at the iPhone X Event. You can’t use the original case with the AirPower. Nor can you simply place your AirPod earbuds on the AirPower to charge them. You have to place the earbuds in the new case, and then place the case on the AirPower. Or you can charge the case on the AirPower, take the case off the pad, and then put the AirPods in the case to charge them. Apple has not release details on the new AirPod case.

Beats earphones are not compatible.

Can my non-Apple Qi-compliant device work with AirPower?
Apple said it was working on the AirPower to be Qi-compliant, and if/when this happens, this could mean compatibility with non-Apple Qi-compliant products. But we don’t have confirmation yet. The iPhone 8 and iPhone X are compatible with the Qi wireless charging standard and can be used with Qi chargers like the Belkin Boost Up or the Mophie Wireless Base.

Can the AirPower fast-charge my iPhone?
Apple has not released specifications on AirPower, which would include the charging rate that the AirPower works at.

The Qi specification supports fast charging at 15 watts. The rate at which AirPower works at has not been disclosed. So it remains to be seen if it can support fast charging.

According to a report from MacRumorsiOS 11.2 will change the wireless charging performance from a maximum of 5 watts to 7.5 watts. While that’s not as fast as some other fast chargers, it’s faster than the included iPhone adapter.

Where can I buy AirPower?
You’ll be able to buy it on the online Apple store, or approved retailer. However, when or if you’ll be able to get them remain a mystery.

IDG News Service

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