In an uncharacteristic move, Apple announced it is no longer going to launch AirPower. The wireless charging mat was originally announced in 2017, as a 2018 launch. As 2018 came and went, many Apple fans were left wondering what happened to the proprietary version of Apple’s Qi charging mat. AirPods second generation even came to market this month with AirPower listed as an approved charging solution.
AirPower charging mat is vaporware
Apple had promised its own version of a proprietary charging mechanism that was well beyond the current industry’s ability to charge multiple devices. In a very long, laundry list of patent filings, curated by Patently Apple, the system promised to charge up to three devices at a single time, specifically the iPhone, AirPods, and Apple Watch.
However, the mat would not require the devices to be placed on specific charging spots on the pad. Existing technology is singular coil-based charging. For example, there is a single charging coil in a single charging puck-style accessory. A user places the device directly onto the pad, the coil activates, and the charging begins.
Via AirPower, Apple intended to include numerous coils, some pundits claim between 20 and 30 coils, all over their proprietary mat. Consequently, a user could place up to three devices anywhere on the mat, without worrying about it directly lining up with any single coil.
Therefore, Apple’s AirPower mat would resolve one of the larger headaches with existing Qi charging mats–missed coil connectivity and no charge.
Apple canceled AirPower in a short statement emailed to TechCrunch. In the communication Apple’s senior Vice President of Hardware Engineering claims:
“After much effort, we’ve concluded AirPower will not achieve our high standards and we have cancelled the project. We apologize to those customers who were looking forward to this launch. We continue to believe that the future is wireless and are committed to push the wireless experience forward.”
It has been assumed that the multi-coil technology caused an overheating issue that could not be overcome. This was forecasted by popular Apple blogger, John Gruber, on his site Daring Fireball. In September 2018, almost a full year after the initial announcement of AirPower, he wrote:
“There are engineers who looked at AirPower’s design and said it could never work, thermally, and now those same engineers have that “told you so” smug look on their faces. Last year [in 2017] Apple was apparently swayed by arguments that they could figure out a way to make it not get hot. They were, clearly, wrong. What I’ve heard, third-hand but from multiple little birdies, is… something about the multi-coil design getting too hot.”
In conclusion, Apple’s previously announced AirPower mat is officially, what the industry would call, “vaporware.” It is a hardware product that was announced, given a release timeframe and then never materialized, or vaporized, if you will. This is extremely rare for Apple and it is safe to assume they do not plan on repeating the embarrassment.
As a result, there is not a high likelihood Apple will soon, if ever, get back in the wireless charging game.