AirPower was announced alongside the iPhone 8, 8 Plus, and iPhone X at Apple's September event… in 2017. It was a preview, not a release, and Apple said it would only be available in 2018. On March 29, 2018. Apple announced it would not, afterall, release AirPower. Here's all the information leading up to the cancelation.
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March 29, 2019: Apple cancels AirPower charging mat, unable to meet quality standards
Apple has officially canceled the AirPower inductive charging mat after failing to meet particular quality standards. The company announced the discontinuation of the project in an emailed statement to TechCrunch:
It's rare for Apple to announce that they are discontinuing a product that it never released. But it seems like a fairly prudent move at this point, as recent rumors had indicated that the company was, in fact, close to releasing the product. Announcing its cancelation at this time puts a stop to those rumors, and keeps customers from holding out for a product that is no longer coming.
February 17, 2019: AirPower yet again rumored for the first half of this year
Kuo Ming-Chi is rounding up his early 2019 predictions and AirPods are on the list. Nothing new or different, just comfortingly more of the same. Via MacRumors:
February 12, 2018: AirPower finally ready for prime time... maybe?
And... add another spring release rumor to your AirPower bingo board!
It's still strange we haven't heard anything from Apple on this, given the delay.
February 11, 2018: AirPower again rumored for the spring... but thicker!
If you haven't succumbed to learned helplessness around AirPower and its many rumors yet zero actual appearances yet, here's one more rumor for the pile.
Figuring out heat and the coils are just necessary in order to get the product to the point it can ship. Exclusive features from iOS 13, though?
January 12, 2018: AirPower rumored to finally be in production
Joe Rossignol, putting the pieces together for MacRumors:
If it was going into production this soon after the New Year, why wouldn't Apple have released a statement like it did with HomePod, saying it needed a little extra time to get AirPower right and that we'd see it in early 2019?
Could be that it's really not that close to production, or that Apple has decided it's really better off not saying anything at this point until it's just about ready for release.
"Shut up and ship" is a mantra for a reason.
December 31, 2019
Apple has now officially missed the launch window for AirPower according to the announcement it made during the charging pad's September, 2017 introduction. But, hope remains.
Where is AirPower? 🤷♂️ All I’ve been hearing is ‘they’ve finally fixed it’, so, if true, it could ship as a product whenever Apple wants. Hopefully alongside the smart battery case for the XS?Where is AirPower? 🤷♂️ All I’ve been hearing is ‘they’ve finally fixed it’, so, if true, it could ship as a product whenever Apple wants. Hopefully alongside the smart battery case for the XS?— Steve Troughton-Smith (@stroughtonsmith) December 31, 2018December 31, 2018
Expect it when you see it.
2017: AirPower Year Zero
Recently, when Apple makes a big change, it likes to announce a big halo product to go with it. The best example is AirPods. iPhone 7 might have ditched the headphone jack but it gave us one of the most innovative consumer electronic products we've seen in the last few years. Custom W1 chips — tiny computers that enable instant pairing, switching between linked devices, and rock solid syncing between left and right, no cables needed.
They were announced during the September event in 2016 as coming later that fall. Apple even provided pre-release versions to reviewers to test so they could have the complete iPhone 7 and Apple Watch Series 2 experience. They ended up shipping late by a couple months. Available for order December 16 and in stores by December 20.
AirPower was probably meant to be similar if not the same. iPhone 8, 8 Plus, and iPhone X. They ditched the metal backs for glass and gave us Qi-based inductive charging. Nothing innovative on its own — phones have been charging inductively for a decade — but Apple seemed to want to show not only its commitment to the technology but its commitment to pushing it forward. That was AirPower. Not just an inductive pad or stand capable of charging the new iPhones, but a super-pad capable of charging up to two iPhones, or an iPhone, an Apple Watch 3 or later, and even a pair of AirPods in a new, inductive charging case all their own.
It would change the narrative from Apple finally joining the inductive charging club to Apple being Apple and doing inductive charging in a slicker, cleverer way than anyone previously in the club.
They weren't announced as coming later that year but as coming the following year. Briefly, spring of the following year on one web page. But everywhere else — and eventually an updated version of that page too — simply next year.
2018: AirPower Year One
The Apple Post, February 7, 2018:
Mac Otakara on March 23, 2018:
But spring came and went, and the March event and new 9.7-inch iPad with it. But no AirPower. Summer came and went as well, and WWDC and iOS 12 with it. But still no AirPower.
Mark Gurman, writing for Bloomberg on June 21, 2018:
AirPower still remained on Apple's website, albeit only on the AirPods page and only in reference to the currently unavailable wireless charging case.
Mark Gurman writing for Bloomber on September 10, 2018:
Fall came and went, and the September and October events, new iPhones and iPads galore. But, yeah, still no AirPower.
John Gruber, writing for Daring Fireball on September 15:
On September 16, 2018, Sonny Dickson, previously best known for finding demo units of pre-production iPhone and other devices from the Chinese supply chain, posted what he heard was going on with AirPower:
One September 17, 2018, Binyamin Goldman wrote for Apple Toolbox:
Apple Watch 4 came with a version of the Milanese Loop that could be opened up, seemingly so it could work with AirPower. That was no doubt planned well in advance, though. But with the launch of iPhone XS and iPhone XR, however, AirPower remained on the documentation included in the packaging, something far easier to change far later in release cycle, especially for the typically fastidious Apple.
According to Guilllermo Rambo, writing for 9to5Mac on September 20, it also remained in the code:
On October 23, 2018, Kuo Ming-Chi reported, via MacRumors:
Apple has launched products in December before. AirPods, of course, in 2016, and the Smart Battery Case for iPhone 6s in 2015. But it's certainly not the norm. HomePod, which was announced at WWDC in June of 2017 as coming later that year, then delayed early February 2018 after AirPlay 2 proved more challenging to nail down than initially expected.
2019: AirPower Year Three
If a December launch isn't in the cards for AirPower, and the lack of noise leading up to the last month of the year makes that seem increasingly likely, than early next year, be it February or March is the next likely window.
If the project really is in trouble or even canceled, as rumored, and another project under the same name or for a similar if simpler purpose isn't rapidly ramped up instead, then it be could well be longer.
"Great artists ship." "Apple ships." Is one of the core tenants of the company. But, delays on everything from AirPods to HomePod, and most especially AirPower has put that tenant to the test. That might be why there were no special halo accessories announced alongside this year's iPhone or iPad, New modular Mac Pro teased way back in 2017 not withstanding: Apple has learned the dangers of deviating from its ship-don't-tell strategy, and the pain it can cause them when forecasts don't match finish lines.
Where is AirPower? I'll do you one better: Why is AirPower?
AirPods challenged and changed our expectations when it came to how intangible wireless headphones really could feel. Even at its best, AirPower probably wouldn't have done that for inductive charging. Not the way ubiquity would. Not the way having every table in every coffee shop and restaurant, ever tray in every ride-share and plane, in having inductive charging everywhere would.
And that'll take more than a charger that can handle a wide variety of different devices. That'll take a wide variety of devices that can all be charged the same way.
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Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.