Woe betide Apple’s wireless charging plans

Sounds like everything that could go wrong, has gone wrong.

From Mark Gurman’s “Apple Is Working on Magnetic Battery Pack Attachment for IPhones” posted Friday by Bloomberg News:

In internal testing, the magnetic attachment system has proved strong enough for the charging unit to stay in place, but the accessory’s development has been slowed by software issues such as the iPhone erroneously indicating that the pack is overheating. Apple also has been working to mend issues related to a customer switching between using the device on an iPhone sometimes with and without a case.

Given the new accessory’s development challenges, it could ultimately be delayed or scrapped, the people said. An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment.

Apple’s hardware engineering department is careful about launching accessories related to charging. In 2017, the company announced an AirPower mat that would charge an Apple Watch, iPhone and AirPods earphones at the same time. It was ultimately never released and canceled deep into its development in 2019 due to issues related to overheating…

The company has also discussed other MagSafe accessories internally, including the potential for an in-car attachment, one of the people said, though that product hasn’t made its way into formal development.

Apple has also internally discussed a goal of letting many of its mobile devices like Apple Watches, AirPods, and iPhones charge each other, but that functionality is unlikely in the near future. For the 2019 iPhones, Apple planned, but canceled, a feature that would let users charge AirPods on the back of the phone.

My take: What, no short circuits and spontaneous fires?

8 Comments

  1. A client with a pacemaker asked me if he should buy an iPhone 12. We went over his needs and preferred form factor and he settled on a new SE until his Pacemaker gets an upgrade. He also has a bionic hip replacement. Gotta love these cyborgs!
    Unrelated Apple Supplier News: Applied Materials (AMAT) makes the $ tools Taiwan Semiconductor (TSM) uses to make 5nm chips, including Apple’s M1. 3nm chips are next. I guess quantum tunneling is a thing of the past at this point. AMAT reported non-GAAP EPS up 42 percent year over year. The M1 is already helping make Apple suppliers like AMAT & TSM quite profitable.

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    February 19, 2021
  2. Gregg Thurman said:
    If wireless charging were the only charging option I’d be really concerned. It isn’t so I’m not (at all).

    Wireless charging is a convenience (sorta, you still have to plug the charger in), not a necessity.

    4
    February 19, 2021
  3. David Emery said:
    In the Olden Days (TM of someone other than Microsoft), that’s what R&D was all about, finding these problems before you ship. And sometimes the problems are insurmountable (either from a technical or a cost/schedule perspective)

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    February 19, 2021
    • Bart Yee said:
      Or the specific goals of convenience and using an attachment technique don’t quite work out together with a wireless charging technique. I’m happy that Apple will not release a wireless charging system that they do not have 100-150% confidence in its function, reliability, safety, and performance. Samsung has essentially recovered its reputation from the Note 7 battery and spontaneous combustion debacle, but Apple would not, especially in this age of social media memory.

      It is a bit perplexing that others have been able to implement some type of wireless charging, quick charging and high capacity rapid charging, but I’m not familiar with their ultimate performance or safety.

      1
      February 19, 2021
      • Jerry Doyle said:
        @Bart Yee: “… It is a bit perplexing that others have been able to implement some type of wireless charging, quick charging and high capacity rapid charging, but I’m not familiar with their ultimate performance or safety.”

        Agree! This scenario baffles me. If what the other manufacturers placed on the consumer market is deficient, unsafe, or whatever, then little doubt some regulatory agency already would have pounced. I know that Apple’s standards are higher than competitors, but what standards or criterion are they using to preclude rolling out these wireless charging products?

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        February 19, 2021
        • Gregg Thurman said:
          what standards or criterion are they using

          It works as it should and it’s safe?

          0
          February 19, 2021
  4. bas flik said:
    everything with batteries and charging is difficult. not a nice world. with very little progress. no law of Moore. law of stallment. lots of bold claims in the end leading nowhere. its chemistry and then you are bound by nature. and often nature wins. nature likes to empty pockets. Beware of nature.

    1
    February 20, 2021
    • David Emery said:
      Failure modes for wireless charging could be significant, particularly if they involve any kind of over-heating. That’s a fire hazard.

      I do not know why Apple has been having problems with wireless chargers. But I’d like to think that’s involved with making the charger meet our expectations for “works as it should” and “safe.” (What would constitute an acceptable failure rate for wireless charging? 1/1000 for units that stop working? 1/100,000 for units that overheat?)

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      February 20, 2021

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