After several hints that Apple's AirPower would make its debut some time in March 2019, it turned out that we wouldn't be seeing Apple's long-promised wireless charging mat at all. Apple announced that it was dropping the product it first announced in September 2017 after it was unable to produce a final version that met its standards.
However, there are now indications that Apple has revived the project. A new patent and a reliable leaker have both suggested that a new wireless charging mat will be coming from Apple in the near future. So perhaps our dreams of an Apple-made wireless charger aren't quite dead after all.
Here's a look at what AirPower promised compared to other wireless chargers and why Apple pulled the plug.
What was AirPower?
AirPower was a wireless charger that Apple had promised would charge the iPhone, AirPods and Apple Watch simultaneously. AirPower was to be a Qi-based charger, so in theory you would have been able to toss an Android-based device on the AirPower, like Samsung's Galaxy S10.
Apple announced AirPower in September of 2017. At the time, the company said that AirPower would launch in 2018, but the product was delayed before it was canceled on March 29.
Why was AirPower canceled?
Apple senior vice president of hardware engineering Dan Riccio said in a statement announcing the end of AirPower that the product failed to meet Apple's standards.
"After much effort, we've concluded AirPower will not achieve our high standards and we have cancelled the project," Riccio said. "We apologize to those customers who were looking forward to this launch. We continue to believe that the future is wireless and are committed to push the wireless experience forward."
AirPower's cancellation is a bit of surprise even after the year-and-a-half wait for the product to arrive. Official Apple press images as recent as a week before Apple's decision to pull the plug featured AirPower.
How much power was AirPower supposed to deliver?
One of the big questions surrounding Apple's AirPower was just how much power it would have been able to dole out. Although Apple's iPhones are limited to 7.5W charging, Qi chargers can deliver significantly more power. Therefore, Apple might have been looking for 15W or 18W charging in the AirPower and updates iOS to allow the iPhones to charge at those higher rates. That would have helped Apple compete more effectively with other chargers, had AirPower ever shipped.
How AirPower was supposed to work
The AirPower charging mat was going to have a cord on one end that can be plugged into the wall. There was some speculation that the AirPower would come with a USB-C cord, allowing for fast and efficient power as well as flexibility in where you can plug it in.
Once everything was set up, you would have only needed to place your iPhone, AirPods case, Apple Watch, or other device on the pad. The AirPower was supposed to intelligently identify what you were trying to charge and provide it with the right amount of power. Your iPhone screen would have also told you how much power is in each of the devices you have atop the AirPower mat.
There are a slew of accessories on the market that all aim at helping you wirelessly charge your devices. We have a handy guide that lists all of the Qi-compatible chargers you can use for your iPhone. Belkin also makes a device called the BoostUP Special Edition Wireless Charging Dock that can be used to charge your iPhone and Apple Watch at the same time.
However, while companies are working on it, only a few could offer a charger that can wirelessly charge three or more devices at the same time that all have different power requirements. It was a sweet spot that Apple was trying to crack the code on, and also the reason the AirPower's launch was delayed and ultimately scrapped. It turns out getting that function to work wasn't so simple.