For those reading the tea leaves, Apple’s slow transition towards a truly wireless charging future for its devices is all too clear. That’s certainly the case if you look at the latest patent application wins the company recently received.
First, it’s worth noting that a patent application Apple has been awarded doesn’t necessarily guarantee anything. It doesn’t mean that Apple is going to launch a product anytime soon. However, it does at least mean Apple is researching a particular idea, and it could mean Apple is planning on launching something that fits the bill at some point in the future.
That being said, Patently Apple has detailed Apple’s research into a more robust wireless charging ecosystem. Indeed, the publication states Apple has earned two patents for two-way charging solutions for a “future MacBook Pro” that can wirelessly charge other Apple devices. One of the patents is entitled “Inductive charging between electronic devices“, and it’s noteworthy in and of itself for a couple of different reasons.
First, it covers all of Apple’s mobile devices. It starts with the MacBook Pro, but then it includes the Apple Watch, the iPhone, and the iPad as well. The imagery included with the patent indicate that Apple has investigated putting wireless charging coils in several different parts of a future MacBook Pro, including in the top case, the palm rests, and in the trackpad itself.
These different coil placements mean that users would be able to put their iPhone, or Apple Watch, or even their iPad, on a closed MacBook to get a top off when needed. Or, if you could swing it, set your Apple Watch down on your MacBook Pro’s palm rest to charge the wearable while you get work done. (Doesn’t seem all that comfortable, but at least it’d be possible.)
The inductive coils used in the patent would allow for two-way charging, so the devices could both receive and distribute power. That would mean users would be able to choose which device is actually getting charged while using the wireless charging option. What’s more, Apple is investigating putting these coils on the front and back of devices like an iPad. That means you could set the iPad on the top of a closed MacBook to charge the tablet, and then put your iPhone on top of the iPad’s display to wirelessly charge the smartphone. And then you could put an Apple Watch on your iPhone to charge that, too:
Apple also indicates that software would be used to show off the wireless charging status. So when you put that Apple Watch on the iPhone, for instance, the display would animate in some way or another to indicate that the wireless charging has started, and what battery level the Apple Watch is at.
MagSafe is hinted at
The patent also hints at magnets for precise alignment while using these wireless charging options. If that sounds familiar it’s because it should, as Apple introduced its major focus on wireless charging late last year with the resurrection of MagSafe. This magnets system provides a precise alignment for wireless charging (and other accessories), and these wireless charging ecosystem would more than likely rely on that.
Apple has been researching two-way wireless charging for a long time
This is something Apple has been investigating for years. Since 2016, in fact. Up to this point Apple has applied for 40 new claims in this regard over the years. And now that MagSafe is out there in the wild, it certainly feels like this could become a reality sooner rather than later.
What do you think of the idea?