Apple AirPower wireless charging pad: Custom chip and OS could delay it until September

How does it work? Will it work with my iPhone? How much is it? We have answers to these questions and more

airpower apple event
Apple

Apple’s new AirPower is a wireless charging pad to help clean up the mess of charging cables for your iPhone, Apple Watch, and AirPods. Apple unveiled AirPower at its iPhone X Event, but the company didn’t provide much detail. We hope to fill the void here. We’ll update this article as we get more details, so stay tuned.

Update June 21, 2018: A Bloomberg News report says AirPower might not ship until September due to numerous technological hurdles.

What's the latest?

Now that WWDC has passed with nary a passing mention of AirPower, Mark Gurman at Bloomberg News has chimed in with a report detailing why the charging mat is so late. According to his sources, the main issue for the delay is the "the complexity of the circuitry" that has led to numerous issues with development of the device, including overheating. Since AirPower will be one of the only wireless chargers that lets you charge multiple devices simultaneously, Apple's engineers need "to pack the AirPower with multiple charging sensors, a process that has proven difficult."

The report goes on to say that the device will include a a dedicated chip, custom charging technology, and a stripped-down version of iOS, "to conduct on-device power management and pairing with devices." Gurman says that as a result of these issues, the AirPower mat might not ship until September when the new iPhones are due to arrive.

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.

airpower apple Apple

Apple AirPower

Can my iPhone 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.

Can my iPad work with AirPower?

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.

Can my Apple Watch work with AirPower?

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. As of this writing, the new case isn’t on the company’s website.

Can my MacBook laptop work with AirPower?

No. AirPower is designed to work with the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone X, Apple Watch Series 3, and the new AirPods case.

airpower charging apple Apple

Can my Beats earphones work with AirPower?

No. See previous answer.

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 ($59.95 on Amazon) 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 MacRumors, iOS 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.

How much is AirPower?

Apple has not released price information about AirPower.

When will AirPower be available?

Apple has only said that AirPower will be available in 2018. See The Latest above for the most recent rumors about a possible ship date, but it might not arrive until September.

Where can I buy AirPower?

You’ll be able to buy it on the online Apple store, as well as your nearest Apple retail store town square. Also check authorized third parties, such as Best Buy.

This story, "Apple AirPower wireless charging pad: Custom chip and OS could delay it until September" was originally published by Macworld.

  
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