You know what’s even more fun for Apple’s bottomline than selling Lightning cables and the plethora of stands and related accessories that use them? Selling wireless charging mats, stands and furniture that could make a replacement cable look like a bargain basement steal. See, Apple’s joined the Wireless Power Consortium, the same group that’s responsible for the Qi wireless-charging standard already used by the likes of Samsung.
While we wish wireless charging meant being able to charge a device at a distance like, say, by simply being near an appropriately kitted out wall plug, that sort of long-range wireless charging remains someway off. Instead, we mean the sort of inductive wireless charging popularised by electric toothbrushes. It’s a solution that requires proximity between charger and chargee.
Nevertheless, it’s still more convenient than plugging in a cable that’s prone to eventually breaking. But before we get too excited about a feature many of us have been eager to see Apple add, it’s worth mentioning a few things. First, Apple has a wireless charging solution already. It’s a variation on the Qi standard and its how the Apple Watch charges without needing a port.
Second, if Apple does go the wireless-charging route for the iPhone it’ll likely mimic what it’s done with the Watch and opt for a proprietary standard. It’s the Apple way, after all. So, even if you bring home a Qi-equipped Ikea bedside table from your next European business trip (the luggage scanners are going to love you) it probably won’t work with the next iPhone.
Third, as with all rumours its worth hanging onto a healthy dose of scepticism. Though we feel pretty confident about this one, if only because wireless charging is indubitably more elegant than using a cable (and Apple loves elegance), it’s something Apple’s rivals have offered for long enough to iron out some of the kinks (which is usually the point in an innovation’s lifecycle that Apple likes to add it), and some of Apple users are certainly expecting it (along with some more flashy new features) for the 10-year-anniversary iPhone due to be announced in September.
Asked about it’s decision to join the Wireless Power Consortium by Business Insider, Apple offered the following:
Apple is an active member of many standards development organisations, as both a leader and contributor. Apple is joining the Wireless Power Consortium to be able to participate and contribute ideas to the open, collaborative development of future wireless charging standards. We look forward to working together with the WPC and its members.
It’s no admission of guilt, but for now, it’s enough to keep the rumour mill churning. A mill that’s already suggested the next iPhone will have a stainless steel chassis, an OLED display (most likely made by king of the OLED kingdom, Samsung), and may forgo the home button entirely.