Apple's troubled AirPower wireless charging pad may finally see the light of day in 2020, following the credible leak that the project is back on and has reached the prototyping stage.
Leaker and analyst Jon Prosser posted on Twitter: "They haven't given up yet and they're trying to re-engineer the coils to displace heat more effectively."
AirPower isn't dead ?— Jon Prosser (@jon_prosser) March 22, 2020
The project is back on, internally. No guarantee that they'll finalize and release it, but they haven't given up yet and they're trying to re-engineer the coils to displace heat more effectively. Prototyping is underway.
Heat has notoriously been the big problem for this project: overheating with first-generation prototypes was so severe - and potentially so hazardous - that Apple had to shelve its plans and issue an apology to expectant customers, in one of the few public failures of the Tim Cook era.
Prosser added that the current prototypes do not support Apple Watch. "That's their biggest hurdle right now," he said. "They refuse to release a version that doesn't work with Apple Watch."
AirPower's selling point was its ability to charge multiple disparate devices - iPhone, AirPods case, Apple Watch - in a smart and efficient way, communicating with each of them and directing charge in the most optimal way. There are hybrid chargers on the market (we've tested one that also charges iPhone, AirPods and Apple Watch, albeit rather slowly) but there's a clear gap for a device that does a better job of fulfilling this useful role.
This is all exciting news, but we should probably temper our expectations. Prosser warns that there are no guarantees even now that AirPower will be released. (Remember, the project reached such an advanced stage last time that Apple actually announced it, but then had to be cancelled.) It's also uncertain when the company would unveil AirPower mark 2; following the launch of new iPad Pros, new MacBook Airs, new Mac minis and new Powerbeats, the spring launch season may be over, which would probably mean (online-only) WWDC 2020 is the next slow, in June.
He is a respected leaker with a good track record, although most of his successful predictions have related to Google; it's hard to know if his Apple contacts are up to the same standard. He did insist, however, that he "never run[s] with a story without verifying it with multiple sources", which is somewhat reassuring.
And this fits in with at least one other piece of evidence: the similarly well-credentialled analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicted recently that Apple would launch a "smaller wireless charging mat" in the first half of 2020, although he didn't specify that this would appear under the AirPower branding. Indeed that may refer to something different - a simpler device that charges only one device at once, for example.
Now that AirPower appears to be back on, follow the latest developments in our roundup of the latest news: AirPower release date, price & specs.