The latest surprise from Apple’s September keynote is the AirPower mat, a new accessory that can wirelessly charge multiple Apple devices at once. Apple quietly slipped the announcement of the wholly unexpected product in toward the end of its special media event, which was held for the first time in Steve Jobs Theater in Cupertino, California.
After running through the anticipated list of product announcements including the iPhone X, the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, and the Apple Watch Series 3 with built-in LTE, Apple’s SVP of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller gave the audience a “sneak peek of the new wireless tech” that Apple’s been working on. He revealed that all of the aforementioned products would one day be able to simultaneously benefit from wireless charging, courtesy of a mat called the AirPower.
What Does AirPower Do?
From what little could be gleaned at the keynote, the AirPower is a simple, oblong mat with an all-white exterior and a Lightning port, that vaguely resembles the Apple Watch Magnetic Charging Dock.
The AirPower comes with enough room to simultaneously charge your iPhone X, Apple Watch Series 3, and AirPods (as well as their optional new wireless charging case). These iDevices begin to charge as soon as they are placed on the mat, doing away with the need for extra chargers and outlets, which ought to make traveling with multiple Apple devices easier. This also means that you can listen to music on your iPhone with wired headphones thanks to the free Lightning port.
The devices also apparently communicate with each other while charging through a system interface, resulting in a more efficient charging system.
The iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X all have glass backs to enable wireless Qi charging. These handsets are compatible with Qi-certified charging devices built by the likes of Belkin and mophie, but apparently Apple had been secretly toiling away at its own wireless Qi standard charging accessory. Apple plans to work with the Qi standards team at the Wireless Power Consortium to incorporate some of the AirPower’s features into future standards and possibly even “help move the entire industry forward”.
AirPower Release Date
Unfortunately, Schiller did not offer much more information about the AirPower’s specifications, shipping timeline, and price. We also don’t know what the specific charging times for the devices are. All we know is that the AirPower will come sometime “next year”, meaning we’ll have to content ourselves with third-party Qi accessories for now.