Apple refuses to give up on AirPower wireless charger

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AirPower
The AirPower multi-device charger is really very late, but it's apparently still coming.
Photo: Apple

Over a year ago, Apple announced AirPower, an accessory that’ll wirelessly charge three devices at once.  It has yet to be released, but there’s definite evidence the project hasn’t been abandoned.

The documentation for the new iPhone XR makes a clear mention of this unreleased product.

Update: A respected analyst predicts that AirPower will be released, but might not make Apple’s current deadline.

The paper “Hello” getting-started guide that comes with Apple’s latest smartphone says “Place iPhone with screen facing up on AirPower or Qi-certified wireless charger.” The same wording is used in the documentation for the iPhone XS series.

In addition, code buried the iOS 12.1 betas has been updated to support AirPower’s features.

The sad history of AirPower

Apple first unveiled AirPower last September alongside the iPhone 8 and iPhone X, the first iOS smartphones to support wireless charging.  This accessory can charge an iPhone, Apple Watch, and AirPods simultaneously, but it goes beyond just that. 

When an iPhone is on the charger with other items, the phone’s screen shows the charging status for the other devices.

In addition, Watch, phone, etc. can be arranged in any way on the charger. It’s this feature that’s apparently causing problems for engineers, as intermingling three sets of charging coils generates unacceptable amounts of heat.

AirPower release date a mystery

That’s why CEO Tim Cook’s promise that AirPower would be available in 2017 didn’t come to pass. The company currently hopes to have this accessory on the market by the end of this year.

Update: Ming-Chi Kuo of TF International Securities just sent a note to investors predicting that this much-delayed product might make this deadline, or potential customers could have to wait until the first three months of 2019.

There have been knock-off products that combine three chargers into one, but these don’t have AirPower’s additional features. They’re just three mats affixed next to each other.