Unplugged: Apple Kills AirPower Wireless Charging Mat

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After 18 months and a great deal of speculation, Apple has killed its wireless power charging mat. The AirPower, announced back in September 2017, was supposed to offer a sort-of wireless charging holy grail. Instead of being limited to a single device, the AirPower could charge an iPhone, Apple Watch, and AirPods simultaneously. Since this wasn’t actually a feature of the Qi wireless charging standard, Apple was going to implement it on its own and incorporate the technology into Qi.

This will now not be happening. “After much effort, we’ve concluded AirPower will not achieve our high standards and we have canceled the project,” said Dan Riccio, Apple’s senior vice president of hardware engineering, in an emailed statement to TechCrunch. “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,”

Apple hasn’t said anything beyond this statement, but the unofficial word is that attempting to stuff all of the wireless charging hardware required to support multiple devices into a single mat simply didn’t work. Power management was difficult and thermal temperatures were high. The writing has been on the wall for a little while, as this tweet from John Gruber of Daring Fireball makes clear:

Apple was clearly expecting to figure these issues out. The company’s packaging for its second-generation AirPods even references AirPower.

airpods-airpower

Image by Slashgear

Don’t be surprised if that package gets redesigned in the not-too-distant future. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen Apple back off launching a major feature — the sapphire glass debacle from several years ago comes to mind. But the cancellation comes at a time when Apple’s ability to manufacture quality hardware has been called into question by its own failure to address quality control issues. Every company hits roadblocks, but Apple sure seems to be slamming into a lot of them these days, raising fundamental questions about how the company builds its products.

Anyone who buys an Apple device for its wireless charging capabilities will have to plan to acquire a separate charger. The company has not announced any plans for a follow-up Apple-branded product that would handle its own charging needs. This isn’t some major hit for Apple — the revenue it would’ve made on AirPower was probably small in the grand scheme of things — but it doesn’t look great given some other issues that have been swirling around, either.

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