It’s not unusual for tech companies to announce products that, for one reason or another, never hit store shelves. In fact, much of what we see at CES every year becomes vaporware.
Apple, however — a famously meticulous and punctual corporation — usually does exactly what it says it’s going to do when it says it’s going to do it. That’s why the continued absence of AirPower — the wireless charging pad designed to simultaneously juice up an iPhone, an Apple Watch and the AirPods — is so baffling. The companyand promised to deliver in 2018, but it hasn’t been seen since. The company did not respond to CNET’s request for comment on the product’s status.
There’s been no shortage of opportunities for the company to debut the device, however. Apple hosted four major events in 2018, two of which featured new phones and watches — products supposedly compatible with AirPower. This month alone, Apple has already announced , a new and in addition to a new , and . The company even figured out how to roll out a significant financial initiative hidden inside of a .
But Apple’s wireless charger has so far proven elusive. So much so that the company’s extended silence about AirPower has now generated an air of suspense rare for charging accessories.
But where there’s mystery, the Internet shall supply rumor. And so we present to you all of the latest and most interesting things we know, or think we know, about Apple AirPower.
Confirmed: AirPower was designed to charge iPhones, the Apple Watch and AirPods simultaneously
Let’s start with the basics. Apple has said that AirPower will charge multiple devices at the same time — and help devices communicate with each other to manage power consumption. Apple’s AirPower demo from last September shows the iPhone screen tracking all the devices currently on the charger, and their battery status. It isn’t clear if this will work with non-Apple devices, or if the technology has been built into the modern iPhones as well as the AirPower pad.
Confirmed: Apple keeps releasing products that are compatible with contactless charging
There are now lots of Apple products that support wireless charging: the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone X, , , . The old AirPods (with the addition of an $80 wireless-compatible charging case) and the new . All of those work with any standard Qi wireless charger. The and the , meanwhile, do not work with Qi chargers, but should work with AirPower.
And though there’s still no Apple wireless charger, there’s a growing number of compatible devices from other manufacturers that can do the job. In fact,can not only wirelessly charge a smartwatch or set of earbuds, — including an iPhone.
Still, as recently as January 2019, Apple was still dropping AirPower references into its listings and manuals. When the iPhone XS Smart Battery Case went live on the company’s site, it included a caption: “The Smart Battery Case is compatible with AirPower Wireless Charging Mat and other Qi‑certified chargers.” That sentence soon after disappeared from the site.
AirPower mentions appeared briefly on the Apple site in September 2018 and it was also cited in the manuals for the iPhone XS and XS Max. All of these products were confirmed to be compatible with the wireless charging pad.
Rumor: Apple has abandoned the AirPower project
A handful of reports suggest that Apple has run into major difficulties making AirPower actually work as planned. One reported reason is that the multi-coil charging design causes the device to get too hot to function. Another report says that the AirPower chip currently has trouble communicating with the Apple products it’s supposed to charge, preventing it from working the way it’s supposed to.
These issues may have been severe enough to force Apple to scrap the project altogether. Apple initially said that its wireless charger would be released in 2018. Then, in September of that year, instead of debuting it alongside of the iPhone X and iPhone 8 as we expected, the company scrubbed its website of nearly all references to the device.
You used to be able to find out more about AirPower on Apple’s product pages for the iPhone X and iPhone 8. But since then, Apple removed its iPhone 8 product page and discontinued the iPhone X, removing all of those references. And noted Apple pundit John Gruber has written that he wouldn’t be surprised if Apple has scrapped the project.
Rumor: AirPower is coming in 2019
But maybe Apple just went back to the drawing board and is slow-walking this product to production. Consider: