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Apple to release a ‘less ambitious’ AirPower charging mat later this year

Published Aug 25th, 2020 6:22PM EDT
AirPower Release
Image: Twitter

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  • Apple is reportedly working on a “less ambitious” version of its ill-fated AirPower charging mat.
  • Originally unveiled at a media event back in 2017, AirPower was designed to charge three devices simultaneously. AirPower was subject to numerous delays and was ultimately canceled by Apple in early 2019.
  • According to reports, the original version of AirPower was prone to overheating.

As a general rule, when Apple announces a new product, it’s a safe bet that the product will ship as planned. Whereas some companies like to show off futuristic technologies that never see the light of day, Apple has historically prided itself on avoiding the pitfalls of vaporware. The obvious exception to this rule is AirPower, a wireless charging mat Apple introduced back in 2017 and never released due to a host of technical hurdles.

Apple officially cancelled the original incarnation of AirPower back in March of last year. At the time, Apple senior VP of Hardware Engineering Dan Riccio said that the product did “not achieve our high standards and we have cancelled the project.” Still, Riccio mentioned that Apple remained committed to “push the wireless experience forward.”

Nearly 18 months later, Bloomberg reports that Apple is planning to roll out a “less ambitious” version of AirPower. The report is scant on details regarding a release date, but it’s safe to assume that Apple has learned its lesson and won’t announce its rumored new product until it’s completely ready to ship.

As to what a less ambitious version of AirPower would look like, well, that remains to be seen. We do know that the original version was designed to charge three separate devices simultaneously regardless of where each device was placed on the charging mat. This design goal, however, reportedly led to a myriad of insurmountable overheating issues on account of charging coils being located extremely close to one another. That said, it stands to reason that the version of AirPower Apple is currently working on will either charge two devices or, perhaps more likely, will charge three devices but with distinct markings as to where each device should be placed.

Incidentally, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen a rumor surface regarding Apple trying to give its AirPower project another go. Earlier this year, noted Apple leaker Jon Prosser declared that “AirPower isn’t dead.” About two months ago, Prosser returned with a tweet which purports to show a prototype version of Apple’s new AirPower mat in action.

In terms of specifications, Prosser has said that the device will boast an A11 processor to “dynamically manage heat.” Additionally, Prosser has said that the new design will house fewer charging coils to prevent overheating. And while Bloomberg didn’t reference a release date, Prosser anticipates it will be ready to hit store shelves before the end of the year at a price point of $250.

Yoni Heisler Contributing Writer

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large with over 15 years of experience. A life long expert Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW.

When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.

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