New Apple Patent Fixes Big Wireless Charging Gripe in AirPods and AirPower
Apple has provided another glimpse into its future wireless charging plans. A new company patent reveals design schematics for products that greatly resemble the long-delayed AirPower wireless charger and what looks like the upcoming AirPods wireless charging case. Presented together, it’s easy to see how the particular combination seems focused on fixing a common annoyance with cordless chargers.
Many charging mats require users to perfectly line up their phones in order to begin juicing up. This makes it easy for minor disturbances to result in a loss of connection in the middle of the night, say, leaving users with no battery charge when they wake up. The new Apple patent, granted yesterday by the United States Patent and Trademark Office, details how the AirPower won’t require devices, like the AirPod wireless charging case, to be precisely lined up in order to accept a charge.
That means users could just plop their iPhone, Apple Watch, or AirPods on the AirPower without having to worry about about being precisely situated. Perhaps more importantly, it eliminates the risk of a night-time jostle resulting in an uncharged phone come morning. Here’s the patent:
“An electronic device according to the disclosure can generally receive charge when positioned anywhere within the charging surface. While embodiments of the disclosure can include many different types of portable electronic devices, some embodiments pertain to a case for a portable listening device, such as a pair of headphones or a pair of wireless earbuds.”
Apple claims that it could pull this off by embedding 16 induction coils inside of the AirPower, along with a series of internal receptor coils in the AirPods case. The patent proposes three configurations for the coils inside the case: two circular ones at the bottom corners, two cylindrical receptors along its sides, or four smaller cylindrical coils on the top and the bottom.
The current-generation AirPods are expected to receive a wireless charging case in 2019, according to reliable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. A previous patent hinted that the case might serve as a wireless charger itself. Users could place an Apple Watch directly on top of it to quickly power it while they’re on the go.
The AirPower has long been rumored to pack a multiple coils to enable reliable charging. It’s this jam-packed internal design that the Apple reporter Mark Gurman says explains the launch delays. A report by MySmartPrice suggested that it might end up being a little thicker than expected because of its crammed internals, but hope for it is not lost.
Apple teased the charger and the AirPods charging case in 2017 along with the release of the iPhone X, but supply chain reports suggest they’ve only recently figured out how to manufacture the AirPower in scale. It’s now expected to be released during the first half of 2019.
It’s also possible that Apple has been waiting for the release of the AirPower so it can drop the AirPods wireless charging case simultaneously. Both devices make sense to released at the same time, at least thematically, but as it stands Apple hasn’t announced any product launches.
Multiple reports suggest the Cupertino-based company’s first event of the year will debut a premium news subscription service and its first hardware drop is largely expected to be a refresh of its miniaturized tablet line, the iPad mini.
Still, with so many wireless charging products in the pipeline, some of which may have already entered production, the long term-strategy — charging options that can apply to an array of devices while rectifying the flaws of earlier generation products — is beginning to become clear.