Apple redesigns wireless AirPower charger to be world's smallest, thinnest, lightest, cheapest, invisible... OK, it doesn't exist anymore

Gizmo axed because it wasn't good enough, ran too hot


Apple's latest foray into wireless charging has ended with the cancellation of the AirPower, the white disc that was supposed to be able to power multiple iThings simultaneously.

Two years ago, Apple acquired a New Zealand-based startup called PowerbyProxi as it prepared to develop the AirPower for its various devices. On Friday, the fruit-themed kit-code-cloud biz called it quits, abandoning the project entirely before it could ship.

“After much effort, we’ve concluded AirPower will not achieve our high standards and we have cancelled the project," said Dan Riccio, SVP of hardware engineering, in a statement sent to various publications (Apple eschews The Register.

"We apologize to those customers who were looking forward to this launch. We continue to believe that the future is wireless and are committed to push the wireless experience forward."

Apple announced AirPower in September 2017, promising that it "will allow iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus or iPhone X customers to simultaneously charge up to three devices, including Apple Watch Series 3 and a new optional wireless charging case for AirPods."

The cancellation came suddenly enough that Apple included an image of the product on its just-released AirPod 2 packaging.

Yet AirPower's demise was not unexpected. Daring Fireball blogger John Gruber reported hearing from sources at an Apple event last fall that the project was in trouble.

"What I’ve heard, third-hand but from multiple little birdies, is that AirPower really is well and truly fucked," he wrote. "Something about the multi-coil design getting too hot — way too hot. There are engineers who looked at AirPower’s design and said it could never work, thermally, and now those same engineers have that 'told you so' smug look on their faces."

Meanwhile, Craig Lloyd at iFixit reckons there was an interference problem, too.

The engineering failure calls into question the company's hardware commitment (or at least competency) at a time it's looking toward services to boost revenue. Apple on Monday held a promotional spectacle to tout its upcoming movie, game and news subscription services, seen as a way to continue growth in the face of flattening hardware sales.

On Twitter, more than a few people expressed concern about whether the AirPower surrender bodes ill for Apple's long-delayed Mac Pro reboot, the follow-on to its poorly received 2013 "trash can" redesign.

Apple's hardware record has not been stellar recently. Its laptop "butterfly" keyboards elicited enough complaints and lawsuits that the company sleeved the internals to prevent dust from blocking the optical sensors. And recent iPhone X and MacBook Pro models have suffered from display and drive issues respectively.

And that's on top of a debate that has been raging for the past few years about Apple's software quality.

The Register asked Apple for comment. We haven't heard back and we're not surprised. ®


Other stories you might like

  • Apple dev roundup: Weather data meets privacy, and other good stuff
    No AR/VR glasses but at least RoomPlan will let you make rapid 3D room maps

    WWDC Apple this week at its Worldwide Developer Conference delivered software development kits (SDKs) for beta versions of its iOS 16, iPadOS 16, macOS 13, tvOS 16, and watchOS 9 platforms.

    For developers sold on seeking permission from Apple to distribute their software and paying a portion of revenue for the privilege, it's a time to celebrate and harken to the message from the mothership.

    While the consumer-facing features in the company's various operating systems consist largely of incremental improvements like aesthetic and workflow enhancements, the developer APIs in the underlying code should prove more significant because they will allow programmers to build apps and functions that weren't previously possible. Many of the new capabilities are touched on in Apple's Platforms State of the Union presentation.

    Continue reading
  • Workers win vote to form first-ever US Apple Store union
    Results set to be ratified by labor board by end of the week

    Workers at an Apple Store in Towson, Maryland have voted to form a union, making them the first of the iGiant's retail staff to do so in the United States.

    Out of 110 eligible voters, 65 employees voted in support of unionization versus 33 who voted against it. The organizing committee, known as the Coalition of Organized Retail Employees (CORE), has now filed to certify the results with America's National Labor Relations Board. Members joining this first-ever US Apple Store union will be represented by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM).

    "I applaud the courage displayed by CORE members at the Apple store in Towson for achieving this historic victory," IAM's international president Robert Martinez Jr said in a statement on Saturday. "They made a huge sacrifice for thousands of Apple employees across the nation who had all eyes on this election."

    Continue reading
  • Apple M1 chip contains hardware vulnerability that bypasses memory defense
    MIT CSAIL boffins devise PACMAN attack to let existing exploits avoid pointer authentication

    Apple's M1 chip has been found to contain a hardware vulnerability that can be abused to disable one of its defense mechanisms against memory corruption exploits, giving such attacks a greater chance of success.

    MIT CSAIL computer scientists on Friday said they have identified a way to bypass the M1 chip's pointer authentication, a security mechanism that tries to prevent an attacker from modifying memory references without being detected.

    In a paper titled "PACMAN: Attacking Arm Pointer Authentication with Speculative Execution," Joseph Ravichandran, ​​Weon Taek Na, Jay Lang, and Mengjia Yan describe how they were able to use speculative execution – the way in which modern processors perform calculations before they may or may not be needed, to accelerate execution – to discern the pointer authentication code that allows pointer modification on a protected system.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022