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Apple wants to turn all its devices into wireless chargers

Adding wireless chargers to the MacBook Pro seems a no-brainer.

Adding wireless chargers to the MacBook Pro seems a no-brainer.

What if your every Apple device could wirelessly charge almost every other one? Engineers came up with plans to put wireless chargers in MacBooks, iPads, and iPhones so they could charge each other, or an Apple Watch.

Building inductive chargers into macOS laptops is such an obvious idea it’s a bit surprising the 2018 MacBook Pro doesn’t include them. But Apple took this idea to its logical extreme.

A patent filing shows an iPad charging an iPhone, which is itself charging an Apple Watch. Which isn’t the best way to go about it, as the proposal envisions the iOS tablet having multiple charging pads built in. In fact, the designers went whole hog with charging pads, putting three on the front and three on the back of this tablet.

An iPad with a wireless charger sends power to an iPhone, which is apparently sending power to an Apple Watch.
Photo: Apple

And that’s nothing compared to the MacBook. Designers put three on the front of this laptop and no less than nine on the back.

Practicality of wireless chargers everywhere 

Apple first filed a patent on this idea back in 2015, long before there was an iPhone that can be wireless charged. But the company filed a continuation this spring, so it hasn’t given up on it.

That said, just because Apple filed a patent on embedding wireless chargers in its laptops, tablets, and phones isn’t an indication that the company is definitely going to do it. Companies regularly patent ideas that go nowhere.

Also, there’s reason to question the practicality of this design. A wireless charging pad is relatively thin and light, but not to the point where embedding one into a mobile device wouldn’t increase its bulk. 

And consider the impact on the battery life of an iPhone if it’s used to recharge an Apple Watch. The same could be said of an Pad’s battery life if it recharges an iPhone.

Still, laptops are frequently left plugged in, and it would be very convenient to recharge phone and watch just by sitting them on an idle MacBook Pro.

The 2017 Apple smartphones support inductive charging, and the 2018 iPhone models are expected to do so as well. The Apple Watch has used inductive charging from the beginning, of course. It’s possible any 2018 iPad models will have wireless charging too.