AirPower wireless charging pad project reignited with A11 chip to manage heat issues

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This sleek wireless charging pad can juice up a Qi-enabled iPhone, Apple Watch and AirPods all at once.
Apple is reportedly working on a new design of its charging pad that controls heat.
Photo: Cult of Mac Deals

Apple is working on a totally re-designed, wireless charging pad with the ability to route power to exact areas to prevent overheating, according to Front Page Tech analyst Jon Prosser.

Prosser reported Friday that engineers on Apple’s Sharing and Proximity team and working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic recently received prototype units of something called “C68”. AirPower isn’t mentioned by name, but descriptions and details appear to match Apple’s failed charging mat.

The blurred device in the photo above is the actual device in question but has been changed to protect the Apple employee’s identity, according to Prosser.

A11 rescues AirPower

Using an A11 chip for a simple charging mat may sound like overkill, but considering the huge issues Apple had in the past, it might be just what the project needs. The A11 chip gives AirPower the ability to route power to specific coil regions and wait for the temperatures to drop before applying more power.

“Because the Apple Watch uses a tweaked proprietary charging method, it requires more energy to charge,” explained Prosser. “In previous prototypes, if you placed an Apple Watch on the mat alongside other devices, the entire mat would overheat, and in most cases, combust.”

AirPower’s troubled history

Apple introduced the AirPower charging mat during the iPhone X keynote in September 2017. Pricing and launch date were never given. It wasn’t until March 2019 that Apple officially revealed the device had been canceled after much speculation. years until it was officially canceled in March 2019.

“After much effort, we’ve concluded AirPower will not achieve our high standards and we have canceled the project,” said Apple hardware boss Dan Riccio. “We apologize to those customers who were looking forward to this launch. We continue to believe that the future is wireless and are committed to push the wireless experience forward,” said Dan Riccio.

If AirPower does somehow make a comeback it would be the first Apple product that was announced, canceled and then announced again. The original AirPower mat reportedly used an A10 processor.