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Apple may be reviving the AirPower charging mat, claims Jon Prosser, who posted the rumor on Twiter. Apple is reportedly handing out prototype units to engineers in the Sharing and Proximity networking team. These engineers are testing the devices at home to improve software communication between the mat and other devices.
According to the rumor, engineers are testing a device called internally by the nondescript name C68. It reportedly is powered by an A11 processor and boasts an improved design that helps minimize heat—previous versions of the mat supposedly overheated because of the Apple Watch’s extensive charging requirements.
“Because the Apple Watch uses a tweaked proprietary charging method,” writes Prosser, “it requires more energy to charge. 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. (Not joking.)”
The A11 architecture helps regulate this heat by monitoring the unit’s temperature and only applying power when the temperature is at a safe level, claims Prosser.
The original AirPower charging mat was announced in 2017 and was slated for an early 2018 launch. The high-tech charging mat was unveiled at a September media event alongside the iPhone 8, iPhone X, and wireless charging case for the company’s AirPods. Apple was all in with the device back then and even had AirPower mats on display for hands-on testing by event attendees.
One year later in September 2018, the company removed all mentions of AirPower from its website. The product seemingly disappeared.
In 2019, Apple finally publicly announced that it was canceling the device. Apple failed to reveal any details but said it was no longer releasing the device because it “will not achieve our high standards.”
Apple may not have been forthcoming, but circulating rumors suggested the company was struggling with overheating.
This latest rumor from Prosser is not the first post-mortem mention of the AirPower. Analysts Ming-Chi Kuo claimed Apple was preparing to release a “smaller wireless charging mat” in the first half of 2020. Kuo did not call the charging pad, AirPower, which suggests this AirPower prototype now being tested may be another larger, more powerful charging mat.