Apple might be gearing up to launch its long-delayed AirPower wireless charging mat, if new official images and references buried within the code of its website are to be believed. Following the launch of the second-generation AirPods and a wireless charging case that also works with first-gen units, a fresh mockup of an AirPower mat with a new iPhone XS and an AirPods case was spotted on Apple's Australia website. References to the same image was also found in the source code for Apple's US site. Although the image was not displayed, it was available on Apple's servers and could be retrieved manually. The company has now removed these images.
The image on Apple's Australia website was spotted by a Twitter user (whose tweets are protected), and reported by MacRumors. The image was also downloaded by 9to5Mac directly from Apple's servers before it was removed. The fact that the mockup showed a new iPhone XS (Review), rather than the iPhone X (Review) in the original publicity shot used at launch time suggests that Apple might have kept a fresh image ready as part of an upcoming announcement. On the other hand, it might have just been the result of a miscommunication. What's also interesting is that the fresh image showed an iPhone XS and AirPods wireless charging case, but no Apple Watch.
AirPower was first announced at the launch of the iPhone X and iPhone 8 series in late 2017. It was an unusual move for a company that never talks about products before they launch, but Apple presumably wanted to show off the AirPower's planned ability to charge an iPhone, Apple Watch and AirPods simultaneously. It was touted as being perfect for a new wireless future, able to charge multiple devices and accessories.
Apple's original description of the AirPower mat has since been described as too ambitious from an engineering standpoint. Users were supposed to be able to place any device anywhere on its surface to begin charging them wirelessly, which required the use of multiple induction coils. Apple also wanted to use its own technology to augment the Qi wireless charging standard as a way to manage power distribution, pairing, and charge status indication using an iPhone's screen.
However, the AirPower mat has reportedly been plagued by production problems and some news sources have claimed that early test versions overheated to such an extent that the device could not be released. The device was at one point rumoured to launch in March 2018, but several Apple events came and went through the year with no further mention of it.
As 2018 drew to a close, Apple quietly scrubbed all mention of AirPower from its website, and even removed images similar to the ones that have now been spotted. If the device does launch now, it might not have all the features and capabilities that it was touted to when it was first announced.
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