Apple has apparently solved one of the main problems that has held its AirPower wireless charging plinth back. Following research and development work by Apple engineers, the AirPower wireless charger now charges the Apple Watch alongside other products, according to a leak by Jon Prosser, who has a good track record of revealing Apple product information through his Twitter account. Apple’s inability to make the charger work with the Apple Watch was rumored to be one of the reasons it has not launched yet.
The tweet shows two pictures, each with an Apple Watch placed on an updated AirPower charging mat alongside an AirPods Pro case, which is also wirelessly charging at the same time and suggests Apple’s efforts are paying off. Prosser says this current prototype, which has the code name C68, is the first to properly support Apple Watch charging.
Why was the Apple Watch a problem with the AirPower? Apparently, the Apple Watch’s proprietary charging system is different than the system used by the iPhone and the AirPods, and getting them to play nicely together was proving difficult. Prosser previously tweeted that trying to charge all the devices together often resulted in the mat overheating to the point of catching fire.
To better manage heat, power, and charging currents Apple has reportedly put its A11 chipset into the new wireless charging mat. The A11 Bionic chip was the flagship processor introduced in the iPhone 8 range and the iPhone X, so it should provide the performance and ability Apple needs to manage the complicated charging system. The aim with AirPower is for it to have the ability to charge any wirelessly chargeable device that’s placed anywhere on the mat. The mat needs to understand this and adapt accordingly, and that ability needs serious processing power. It’s an impressive solution to a problem arguably of Apple’s own making.
AirPower has had a difficult start in life. Originally announced in 2017 and after months of waiting, it was eventually canceled in 2019, but that wasn’t really the end. Noted Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo mentioned at the beginning of 2020 that Apple still had plans for a wireless charging mat, and that it was due for release before mid-2020. It’s unclear if this rumored product will use the AirPower name, but it’s entirely likely the prototype Prosser has leaked is the mat to which Kuo was referring.
Apple will hold its annual developer conference, WWDC, next week, which would have been the perfect launchpad for the new wireless charging system. However, depending on how recently the Apple Watch issues have been solved, it’s still unknown if it will be ready for the public to see. Given the very public problems with the first version, Apple will want to make sure its next attempt will definitely go on sale after talking about it. Also, the addition of the A11 Bionic processor may push the price of the eventual product up.