Apple AirPower wireless charger for iPhone and Apple Watch is back from the dead

Apple AirPower
(Image credit: Apple)

Do you remember AirPower? It was Apple’s attempt at making a wireless charging pad, originally announced in September 2017; but cancelled in March 2019 after the company decided it wasn’t going to be up to standard. But maybe it never truly died after all.

The uncertainty comes from Patently Apple, who have found a newly published patent, filed by Apple on May 23 2019, only two months after the cancellation announcement. It details a "Wireless Power System with Device Priority," which certainly sounds an awful lot like AirPower. What’s new is the device priority feature, which appears to take into account what kind of devices are being charged as well as the order in which they were placed on the pad to decide how much power is allocated and delivered to each one.

You can see in the illustrations below how this will work. The first one is a summary of all the components required in the transmitting and receiving devices to transfer power between them, while the second is a very simple diagram of what looks to be a wireless charging pad with a device charging on it. The double width of the pad is a little reminiscent of AirPower too, which was design to charge an iPhone, an Apple Watch and a pair of AirPods all at once.

(Image credit: Patently Apple)

The problems with the original AirPower that caused Apple to pull the plug were allegedly heat issues and muddled communications signals caused by having multiple devices charging at once. Hopefully Apple has worked out a way to deal with this in the meantime, or at least plans to have a solution before we see the product launched.

When that will happen is uncertain. Patents are never a guarantee that a product will ever be sold, and if it does turn into something you can actually buy, it’s impossible to know how long that will take.

If you want a great wireless charger right now, our favorite is the Belkin Boost Up Wireless Charging Stand. It delivers a 10W charge to any Qi-compatible smartphone, while propping it up so you can still watch videos or make calls while you do.

Richard Priday
Assistant Phones Editor

Richard is based in London, covering news, reviews and how-tos for phones, tablets, gaming, and whatever else people need advice on. Following on from his MA in Magazine Journalism at the University of Sheffield, he's also written for WIRED U.K., The Register and Creative Bloq. When not at work, he's likely thinking about how to brew the perfect cup of specialty coffee.