Apple did not provide much information about AirPower, its wireless charging mat, except for providing us with a glimpse of it and a tentative launch date of 2018. Many assumed that AirPower was just a regular Qi wireless charger capable of charging the new iPhones, AirPods, and Apple Watch simultaneously.
While the Apple Watch does support wireless charging, it is not compatible with Qi wireless chargers out there. Thus, many believed Apple had made some changes to Apple Watch Series 3 to make it compatible with Qi wireless chargers, with the upcoming AirPods wireless charging case also being Qi compatible.
Turns out, that is not the case. While AirPower is a wireless charger, it is not just a regular Qi wireless charger. Instead, Apple has made some of its own improvements to Qi charging standard and incorporated them into AirPower.
This means that while you will be able to charge the iPhone 8 or iPhone X via any Qi wireless charger, you will have to use the AirPower or the supplied wireless charger to charge the AirPods and Apple Watch. Presumably, this also means that you will not be able to charge any other Qi-compatible smartphone or device.
The approach is similar to the one the company has taken with AirPods and its W1 chip. While AirPods work over Bluetooth, Apple has made its own proprietary improvements to Bluetooth to further improve its performance.
With Qi and AirPower though, Apple has proposed the changes it has made to the Qi consortium. If they end up being accepted, we can see third-party accessory makers come out with their own take on AirPower. If not, then iPhone, Apple Watch, and AirPod owners won’t have much of an option except for buying AirPower if they wish to wirelessly charge all their three devices simultaneously.
[Via Daring Fireball]