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It was nearly a year-ago, alongside the iPhone 8, 8 Plus and iPhone X, when Apple announced the “upcoming availability” of AirPower, its proprietary Qi-based wireless charging solution for up to three capable devices. Those devices would include a wireless charging iPhone, an Apple Watch Series 3, and also the upcoming AirPods wireless charging case — all on a single, expensive charging pad.
At the time of its announcement, Apple quoted an early 2018 availability of its AirPower wireless charging mat. And while “early 2018” has come and gone with little sign or indication of AirPower’s whereabouts (save for a few incorrect reports claiming it would be made available in March, and then again at WWDC 2018).
However, a brand-new report out this week from Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, asserts that it wont be until September, 2018 that AirPower is officially ready to hit store shelves.
According to Gurman, who cites at least one source with knowledge of Apple’s ongoing product development, it was “a series of technical hurdles” (including badly-engineered circuitry), that ultimately led Apple to postpone AirPower until September.
Chief among the bottlenecks encountered was that AirPower’s circuity (which is designed to allow for placement of up to three capable devices for charging anywhere on the mat’s surface area) is inherently much more complex than even Apple’s engineers could have foretold..
Another issue cited in the report was that early on, engineers were grappling with how to mitigate extreme overheating episodes in most of the units the company distributed to them for independent testing at home.
Apple’s “ambitious goal” of creating a Qi-based wireless charging accessory capable of doing what AirPower can “requires the company to pack [the device] with multiple charging sensors, a process that has proven difficult” for the company, Gurman’s source noted, adding that “The multi-device charging mechanism is challenging to build because it likely requires different sized charging components for the three types of devices, which would all overlap across the mat.”
Another factor playing into the delay is that AirPower apparently runs on a custom-deigned Apple chip (which itself runs what’s described as “a stripped down version” of iOS —and is responsible for managing power and assisting with quick and easy device pairing. It’s likely Apple chose either a W1 or W2 chip to carry out these tasks — the same chip aids in this functionality with the company’s AirPods wireless earbuds.
While it will have been a whole year from the time AirPower was originally announced announced that it’ll actually, finally debut, it’s worth pointing out that according to Gurman’s sources, Apple wanted to at least try bringing AirPower to the table by the end of June. But, engineers have also reportedly been working to clear AirPower’s firmware of any remaining bugs and/or inefficiencies.
All things considered, given that engineers have been testing AirPower themselves for several months now, it appears that Apple just wants to ensure that all the kinks are worked out before making it available to the masses — and I suppose we cant blame them for covering their bases, right?
There’s two silver linings in all of this, though: one being that while it may be nearly a year late to launch, AirPower is still an absolute powerhouse of an accessory for those fortunate enough to own multiple wireless charging-capable Apple products like an Apple Watch S3 and an iPhone X! (Sadly, though the technology is there, AirPower is not designed to work with older Apple Watch models including the Series 0, 1, or 2..)
The other bit of good news being that while we still don’t have a firm confirmation of how much AirPower will cost, it will almost definitely not cost $274, as some analysts speculated earlier this year.
Apple would be signing the thing up for a death sentence if that ends up being the case, so we’re definitely hoping the company makes right by its tardiness to the party and considers giving us all a play to get in on AirPower for a reasonable price.
Given it’s supposed September launch, it’s possible we will learn more about precisely when it’s touching down either later this summer or perhaps during Apple’s annual iPhone unveiling event which is likely to fall out in September as it usually does.
Of course, the company could always discreetly announce AirPower’s availability via a press release, but we obviously won’t know until that time. We will, of course, update you when everything is squared away and ready to roll.