Alongside the debut of the iPhone X and iPhone 8 handsets, Apple talked about a wireless charging mat it would debut to complement those new devices. But the company has been incredibly quiet about the mat, dubbed AirPower, ever since.
According to a report from Bloomberg, “technical hurdles” have delayed the launch of the AirPower wireless charging mat. The device was slated to be released in June 2018, but it will now likely be released either before or in September of this year.
Apple has had to address issues regarding overheating and the “complexity of the circuitry” within the mat. The device will be designed to wirelessly charge up to three devices at once; compatible products include the iPhone X, iPhone 8 models, Apple Watch Series 3 devices, and AirPod earbuds once their rumored wireless charging case comes out.
Such multitasking has proven to be hard to achieve in the engineering of the AirPower mat. According to the report, Apple must design the device with multiple charging sensors, all differently sized, placed in various locations in the mat. The idea is to allow users to place all of their devices anywhere on the mat and have them charge wirelessly at the same time. Existing wireless charging mats are more basic than this; most only charge one device at a time, and you must place the device properly in the center of the mat in order for it to receive power.
The AirPower wireless charger will integrate with the Qi charging standard, but it will also include a custom chip made by Apple. This chip will reportedly run a “stripped down version” of iOS that will aid device pairing and power management.
Apple highlighted wireless charging accessories made by Belkin and Mophie when it released the iPhone X and iPhone 8 models. But in traditional Apple fashion, the company wants to offer its own version of a wireless charging mat with unique features so it can persuade users to stay within its product and services ecosystem.
It’s also rumored that Apple would like to remove all external buttons and power ports from its iPhones—including the Lightning charging port. The company was unable to do this in the iPhone X’s design, but we could see a port-less, button-less iPhone debut down the line.
Currently, though, wireless charging remains more of a convenient feature rather than an efficient one, since wireless charging tends to be slower than wired charging. In our review of the iPhone X, Ars editor Samuel Axon found that both Belkin’s and Mophie’s wireless charging pads powered up the iPhone X more slowly than its included charger. The iPhone X’s support for fast charging with compatible chargers makes the difference between wired and wireless charging even more noticeable.