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A prototype of Apple's ill-fated AirPower wireless charger has been seen charging an Apple Watch for the first time.

airpower.jpg

AirPower was an Apple-designed charging mat designed to charge Qi-based iPhones, the Apple Watch, and ‌AirPods‌ that the company announced in September 2017 alongside the iPhone X. AirPower was designed so that users could place an ‌iPhone‌, ‌AirPods‌, and Apple Watch on any part of the mat to charge them, which meant that multiple overlapping charging coils had to be included.

It would have prompted devices to display a unique on-screen iOS animation when they were placed on the charging mat, as seen in Apple's early marketing materials. An iPhone on the AirPower charger would also have shown the charge of all of the devices that were placed on the pad. AirPower missed its original 2018 launch date goal, and after a large number of issues with its development, Apple outright canceled the AirPower project in March 2019.

Images depicting AirPower prototypes first surfaced on social media in August 2020, showing a multi-coil design and the device's internal circuitry, and the first video footage of the device emerged in August 2021. Multiple other AirPower prototypes have appeared since then, but most are no longer functional.



A new video from the X user "Apple Demo," who has showcased various Apple prototypes in the past, demonstrates the AirPower's ability to charge an Apple Watch. The device features 16 coils and can charge a DVT prototype Apple Watch Series 4, but it apparently gets quite warm. Late last year, a functional AirPower prototype from early on in its development exhibited some of the severe thermal problems, including burning or melting devices placed on the charging pad, that ultimately led Apple to abandon the project.

AirPower's ability to charge an Apple Watch would have been special because Apple's smartwatch is only able to charge via its magnetic charging puck and does not support Qi. Simply placing an Apple Watch anywhere on the AirPower pad with no magnetic alignment would have been a unique charging experience.

Rumors in subsequent years about Apple's work on a smaller wireless charger seem to have been related to MagSafe or the MagSafe Duo charger, rather than AirPower. Nevertheless, a report from Bloomberg's Mark Gurman in 2022 said that Apple is still looking into AirPower-like charging solutions for the future.

Update: Apple Demo has now shared a new video of the AirPower prototype.



Article Link: AirPower Prototype Seen Charging Apple Watch for First Time
 
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coffeemilktea

macrumors 65816
Nov 25, 2022
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4,319

Rkuda

macrumors regular
May 23, 2016
198
376
Airpower was a stupid idea to start with, glad it got canned. Tim should have been smart enough to kill it like a year before they actually did.

- Being able to charge the devices at any orientation / location on the pad solves a non-problem.
- Being a large flat pad it takes up a large amount of desk space.
- Being completely flat means you can't see the screens while the devices are charging.

Magsafe and night stand mode for the iPhone and/or watch are infinitely more useful.
 

ApplesAreSweet&Sour

macrumors 68020
Sep 18, 2018
2,058
3,835
Apple Watch not charging with anything but the Apple Watch "mini MagSafe" charging puck is not a physical hardware limitation but something Apple blocks through software.

Qi charging of Apple Watch is blocked in the same way.

Whether this is because Apple needs more sales of its AW charging accessories or because Qi and iPhone MagSafe cause AW to overheat, nobody knows.

But I'm sure Apple will "magically" fix this anytime soon and let you buy either an AirPower style charging mat that only works with the latest AW, or put out a new AW that charges via both Qi2 and iPhone MagSafe in addition to the AW puck.
 

Brandon42

macrumors regular
Jul 24, 2019
194
583
Maybe in another timeline, we'd all be able to plug our AirPower chargers into our Apple Cars' charging outlets and see how long it takes to charge things wirelessly on our Apple Watches with MicroLED displays... what a wonderful world that would be. 😩

They might appear in Season 6 of For All Mankind. If the Russians had landed on the moon, you’d have all these goodies.
 

Unregistered 4U

macrumors G4
Jul 22, 2002
10,334
8,332
Amazing that they couldn’t get this to market. I’m not a big fan of wireless charging I feel like it’s the biggest reason for my device batteries degrading. On my iPhone 15 I’m purely using a cable for charging and it’s still 100%.
I don’t think so, the alignment is a difficult challenge to overcome (hasn’t been successfully done by ANY company). I think it’s Amazing that someone convinced them to try.
 

Unregistered 4U

macrumors G4
Jul 22, 2002
10,334
8,332
Apple Watch not charging with anything but the Apple Watch "mini MagSafe" charging puck is not a physical hardware limitation but something Apple blocks through software.

Qi charging of Apple Watch is blocked in the same way.
I’ve got a battery pack with an Apple Watch charger embedded in the face of it, so if it’s blocked, it’s blocked fairly poorly.
 

Brandon42

macrumors regular
Jul 24, 2019
194
583
Apple Watch not charging with anything but the Apple Watch "mini MagSafe" charging puck is not a physical hardware limitation but something Apple blocks through software.

Qi charging of Apple Watch is blocked in the same way.
There is a huge size difference between a qi/magsafe coil and the Apple Watch charging coil. That is a physical hardware limitation.
 

truthsteve

Suspended
Nov 3, 2023
996
2,838
Airpower was a stupid idea to start with, glad it got canned. Tim should have been smart enough to kill it like a year before they actually did.

- Being able to charge the devices at any orientation / location on the pad solves a non-problem.
what? the amount of Qi chargers I threw away because I woke up too many times where the qi charger didn't begin charging at all because it was a couple of cm off center is crazy

- Being a large flat pad it takes up a large amount of desk space.
1 iPhone occupying 1 MagSafe, 1 AirPods on another MagSafe, and 1 Apple Watch charger is about the same width

not to mention 3 cables and 3 chargers

- Being completely flat means you can't see the screens while the devices are charging.

no different than wired or many other flat qi chargers
 

xizdun

macrumors 6502
Nov 13, 2011
273
484
I’m glad AirPower never made it to market and they came up with MagSafe instead. Apple’s only mistake was announcing AirPower publicly in the first place.

Imagine your wireless Qi devices relying solely on gravity to stay in the correct position over the charger. 🤮
 
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Jim Lahey

macrumors 68030
Apr 8, 2014
2,688
5,506
Swaggering around on stage announcing this product before they even knew they could make it work is arguably the most embarrassing misstep Apple has ever made. I mean sure, they've made far greater mistakes, but announcing it before it was even working? SRS?
 
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Naraxus

macrumors 68020
Oct 13, 2016
2,151
8,707
Apple did what it usually does - tries to bully and bluff their competitors into getting its way. Sadly for Apple (and laughably for the rest of the world who saw it coming) its competitor in this case was physics and science.

Another L for Tim Cook 😆
 
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