AirPower: iOS 12.1 and iPhone XS Hint at Charging Pad Coming Soon
AirPower may live another day. Apple’s wireless charging solution was missing from its iPhone XS reveal event earlier this month, but the launch of the new devices on Friday revealed in-box instructions that still refer to the product, alongside hints in the iOS 12.1 beta update. The revelation follows reports that Apple engineers were struggling to solve overheating issues, fueling speculation that AirPower was dead.
The new iPhone’s getting started instructions, shared by 9to5Mac, tell users to “place iPhone with screen facing up on AirPower or a Qi-certified wireless charger.” Wireless charging debuted on the iPhone with the announcement of the X in September 2017. AirPower was announced at the same event with the promise that it could charge three devices at once, without needing to align with a single coil as with other pads, with a scheduled 2018 launch. Reports claimed earlier this month that Apple was trying to use up to 24 coils to pull off this feat, but the coils were interfering with each other and creating too much heat.
AirPower was expected to make an appearance at the iPhone XS event, one year after its initial announcement. Instead of launching the product, Apple scrubbed most mentions of the pad from its website, leading to speculation that the heat issues would lead to its quiet cancellation. Alongside heat issues, reports also claimed that Apple was struggling to fix software issues that would enable the three devices to communicate their charging status, which would have enabled the iPhone on the pad to provide a detailed summary of charge status.
Alongside the bundled instructions, Apple has also left references to AirPower in iOS 12.1. The software entered the beta stage earlier this month after the launch of iOS 12, with the promise of group FaceTime calls. 9to5Mac found that the charging user interface intended for use with AirPower has received an update compared to its 12.0 state, suggesting development is still active on the project.
Rumors suggest Apple may host another event this year to introduce iPad Pro updates, expected to offer USB-C and 4K external display support. If Apple does host another event, the company could use the opportunity to provide an update on AirPower.
In the absence of AirPower, Logitech and Apple teamed up to design a single smartphone wireless charger last month. It’s no AirPower, but it could prove the best solution for the time being.