What you need to know
- AirPower was canned last year because of overheating problems.
- We've heard reported that it might be a live project again.
- A leaker says engineers have prototypes in-hand while working on them.
UPDATE – Jon Prosser has confirmed to iMore that the image he tweeted is indeed the actual product engineers are currently testing.
AirPower. That's a thing, right? It might be more than a thing if you've been reading leaker and YouTuber Jon Prosser's tweets today – he reckons the project is not only back on, but that Apple might have fixed the overheating problem that saw it killed off in the first place.
For those who have pushed all memories of AirPower to the back of the mind, a refresher. AirPower was announced alongside iPhone X in 2017 and then we heard nothing. We heard nothing until Apple finally canned the project last year, saying that it just couldn't make the thing work properly. We were told that's because the charging mat liked to catch fire which, obviously, isn't a good thing.
Fast forward to today and we have Prosser saying that AirPower is in the hands of engineers as they work on getting it out the door all over again. This time, it's called "C38". Presumably the C stands for combustion.
While working from home, engineers on Apple’s ‘Sharing and Proximity’ team are receiving prototype units of something called “C68“.
They are being asked work on software communication between devices for a “future product” that has an A11 inside to “dynamically manage heat”. pic.twitter.com/q4UvnF4ksxWhile working from home, engineers on Apple’s ‘Sharing and Proximity’ team are receiving prototype units of something called “C68“.
They are being asked work on software communication between devices for a “future product” that has an A11 inside to “dynamically manage heat”. pic.twitter.com/q4UvnF4ksx— Jon Prosser (@jon_prosser) April 10, 2020April 10, 2020
But wait, there's more. Prosser says that the overheating was caused by the way Apple Watch charges and that Apple intends to use the A11 chip to manage the charging process to try and prevent it from making AirPower too warm.
Using the A11, this new prototype has the ability to route power to specific coil regions and can dynamically wait for temperatures to drop before applying more power - preventing it from overheating.
The technology is kind of incredible.Using the A11, this new prototype has the ability to route power to specific coil regions and can dynamically wait for temperatures to drop before applying more power - preventing it from overheating.
The technology is kind of incredible.— Jon Prosser (@jon_prosser) April 10, 2020April 10, 2020
It isn't clear how dynamically changing power output would affect the rate at which things charge, but that's perhaps a question for another time. Assuming AirPower ever finds its way out of the engineering team's basement long enough for someone to test it out.
Oh, and that photo in the first tweet? It isn't clear whether that's a photo of C68 or not. I've reached out to the man himself for clarification and will update here when I know more.
Jon has now confirmed this is indeed C68 being tested
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Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.
Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.