Tech Talk: Where is Apple's AirPower?

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Last week Apple announced the newest iPhones. They’re huge. They look great. They have Qi Wireless Charging. But one thing was noticeably missing from Apple’s yearly announcement - where the heck is AirPower?

What is AirPower?

For those who don’t know, AirPower is a proposed Qi wireless charging pad that Apple teased the release of over a year ago.  It would allow for the simultaneous charging of 3 Apple devices - such as your iPhone, AirPods, and Apple Watch.

But that’s not all. It’s been rumored that the Air Power would be a complete “Wireless Charging System” that would allow devices to communicate and manage power consumption between them to charge in the most effective way possible. This feature is something that isn’t possible on other wireless chargers.

In classic fashion, Apple look poised to take another pre-existing technology to the next level and leapfrog the competition.

Tips for Hotels: Station W and Station C both have the ability to charge 3 devices at once. The wireless charging pad can charge all Qi compatible phones (including the latest iPhones) and the USB ports can charge any device with a USB cord - 95% of all devices on the market.

The Infamous Photograph Apple Released Over a Year Ago

The Infamous Photograph Apple Released Over a Year Ago

What’s Going On?

One year later, and not a peep about AirPower. Even more concerning is there’s no trace of the technology anywhere on Apple's website. Naturally, many were expecting Apple to make the official announcement last week, but that came and went and nothing was revealed. So what’s going on?

While there’s no question that Apple is all in on Qi Wireless charging, famed tipster Sonny Dickson published a report stating they bit off a little more than they can chew with AirPower and are facing several engineering issues that have hampered development.  

The main cause of concern surrounds the AirPower mat’s multi-coil design. Virtually all Wireless Chargers utilize a single coil to charge one device at a time. AirPower, meanwhile, apparently contains 16-24 overlapping coils of different sizes designed to charge multiple devices at once. Woah.

A Rough Illustration of What Appe is Hoping to Accomplish with AirPower

A Rough Illustration of What Appe is Hoping to Accomplish with AirPower

Trying to make all these coils work together is causing too much heat to be produced - affecting both the ability of devices to charge, as well as the ability of Apple’s custom charging chip to work as intended. These issues have been rumored since June, and it appears Apple hasn’t made much progress since then.

The second problem relates to AirPower’s ability to communicate with multiple devices, mainly the communication of the Apple Watch and AirPod charging data to the iPhone. Last year Apple released a picture of AirPower in action and one of the main draws was the iPhone displayed the batteries of each device on the mat. This isn’t possible when the devices can’t effectively communicate.

Lastly, the tightly packed nature of these overlapping coils is causing interference issues that significantly reduces charging efficiency and contributes to heat issues. Overall, it doesn’t look good.

What Does this Mean for Hotels?

At face value, this news (or lack of news) could seem like a roadblock to broader adoption of Qi Wireless Charging. But a deeper look reveals the bigger picture and where Apple is going.  

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Apple is Committed to a Wireless Future - Are You?

We talked earlier about the wireless future we’re inevitably headed towards. While it’s bummer that it may be awhile until we see AirPower, the fact that the Tech Giant even attempted something this ambitious shows they are keeping on the path of eliminating non-essential hardware pieces - such as the headphone jack and home button - to bring us closer to a truly wireless world.

As mentioned, AirPower would allow the simultaneous charging of 3 popular Apple devices - the iPhone, Apple Watch, and AirPods. This is significant. Remember, Apple JUST added Qi to their iPhones last year. Yet they are already attempting to reinvent this technology and take it to a level we never seen before. They wouldn’t be investing their time, money, and resources into a project like this if they weren’t 100% committed to a wireless future.

With Samsung, Apple, and LG all committed to the next generation of charging. Hoteliers can rest easy knowing an investment in wireless charging is an investment in a sustainable future.

Tips for Hotels: The future is wireless, and for many guests, so is the present. But during this transition period it’s crucial for hotels to prepare for the future without alienating more traditional guests. Luckily, there’s many solutions available that combine Qi Wireless Charging with USB outlets. (Some even include an alarm clock!)

Jony Ive, Chief Design Officer at Apple, shares his companies vision

Jony Ive, Chief Design Officer at Apple, shares his companies vision

What’s Next?

When Apple teased AirPower in 2017 they forecasted a 2018 release date. As of today they still have a few months to make good on that promise. But I wouldn’t hold my breath. The issues their engineers are facing is leading many to believe if we see AirPower at all it will be in 2019, or in a completely different form entirely.

Maybe the masses are wrong. Maybe we’ll get lucky and Apple is planning the release at one of their special events in October. Or maybe this project was dead before it started. Guess we’ll have to wait and see.