Apple AirPower: not dead yet?


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Probably the hottest rumor over the weekend in tech is that Apple AirPower might not be dead and buried after all.
  • Tech analyst/leaker/YouTuber Jon Prosser is currently on a tear with Apple leaks and rumors via his Twitter account, enough so that he claims Apple is now investigating his leaks. (Which apparently, was leaked as well. Right.)
  • It’s never clear with these characters exactly what is inside info, what isn’t, and what’s close to the truth or not.
  • Prosser’s latest leak, if you believe it, is that Apple hasn’t thrown its embarrassing AirPower project away completely, and is still working to make it happen.
Quick recap:
  • Apple announced in September 2017 a wireless charger called AirPower that could wirelessly charge an iPhone, Apple Watch and AirPods all at the same time. 
  • By March 2019, 18 months later, Apple finally admitted it couldn’t make the device. 
  • “After much effort, we’ve concluded AirPower will not achieve our high standards and we have cancelled the project," said Dan Riccio, Apple’s senior vice president of Hardware Engineering, at the time.
The leak:
  • Prosser’s tweets say it’s “back on”, noting problems with the heat dissipation: “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.”
  • He later followed that with a key point: “Note: None of the current prototypes support Apple Watch - that’s their biggest hurdle right now. 
  • “They refuse to release a version that doesn’t work with Apple Watch. They’re re-engineering from scratch.”
  • The problem remains that Apple indicated you could align any device anywhere on the mat and it’d wirelessly charge. Current third-party options require you to line up devices in key spots.
  • That requires hefty charging coils - literally coiled wires - that get hot while in use because wireless charging is inefficient: lots more power goes into the coils than the device receives. 
  • That heat needs to go somewhere and a thin mat can’t do that work.
  • It’s entirely plausible Apple still has a few boffins at least trying to make it work.
  • Physics is the problem. Apple doesn’t have to invent a new form of matter, but avoiding a mat with any compromises still seems remarkably difficult, unless water-cooling or thermal loads can be managed in new ways.

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