Reporting on the upcoming iPad models, Mark Gurman of Bloomberg claims that Apple has not shelved its AirPower wireless charging mat and is still working on improving the technology to charge multiple devices at once like iPhone, AirPods, and Apple Watch.
AirPower is an older project which was announced at a 2017 media event. But the prototypes did not function properly because charging an Apple Watch on the mat caused it to overheat. The company canceled the tech in 2019.
Having said that, the rumors that Apple is still developing the wireless charging mat resurfaced in 2020. Apple leaker and YouTuber Jon Prosser shared images of an alleged next-generation AirPower prototype that is powered by an A11 chip to manage heat and uses coils to route power to specific regions to resolve overheating issues. Interestingly, Gurman and Prosser had a bit of Twitter altercation over the credibility of the alleged AirPower prototype.
Apple is ambitiously pursuing AirPower tech including wireless charging support for iPad Pro
With iPhone 12 series, Apple launched new MagSafe accessories including wireless chargers and a MagSafe Duo charger which powers an iPhone and Apple Watch simultaneously. And now sources claim that the Cupertino tech giant wants to extend the wireless charging feature to future iPads.
People familiar with the matter told Gurman that the next-generation iPad Pro models expected to release in 2022 and iPad mini expected this year, will have a new glass back like the iPhone (2017 or later) to introduce support for wireless charging in the tablets “for the first time.”
The company is testing a similar MagSafe system for the iPad Pro. Wireless charging will likely be slower than directly plugging in a charger to the iPad’s Thunderbolt port, which will remain as part of the next models.
Unlike older AirPower, Apple is working on a new ‘reverse’ wireless charging technology to power the alleged iPad Pro and other devices.
Wireless charging replaces the usual power cable with an inductive mat, which makes it easier for users to top up their device’s battery. It has grown into a common feature in smartphones but is a rarity among tablets. Apple added wireless charging to iPhones in 2017 and last year updated it with a magnet-based MagSafe system that ensured more consistent charging speeds.
Having said that, Gurman clarifies that the users should not expect the new workable AirPower wireless charging mat any time soon.
The Cupertino company is still exploring a future wireless charger that works similarly to its failed AirPower, a charging mat designed to simultaneously power up an iPhone, Apple Watch and AirPods, the people said. It is also internally investigating alternative wireless charging methods that can work over greater distances than an inductive connection. Turning such technology into a product is likely several years away, however.