A hands-on video gives us a never-before-seen glimpse of what AirPower, Apple's famous multi-device wireless charger unfortunately nipped in the bud, could have been.
The Youtube 91Tech and Apple Demo got their hands on an AirPower prototype dating back to 2017. It's not the first to surface, but the hands-on that both media outlets have done with it is surely the best overview of this product that many Apple fans have been waiting for.
Teased as a One More Thing after the iPhone 8 and iPhone X launch keynote in September 2017, the AirPower was supposed to be a wireless charger designed so users could place an iPhone, AirPods and an Apple Watch on any part of its surface for the device to charge. Too complex, the project was put on hold even though the most hardcore Pommists- and even Apple itself—still seem to believe in it.
Like other AirPower prototypes that have emerged in the past, the unit doesn't feature a finished design with a white outer shell, as seen in Apple's marketing materials at the time. Here, we can clearly see its internal circuitry.
Although the prototype in the video above is not fully functional, it was possible to connect to it through Terminal on a Mac using some Apple development tools that are not publicly available. Errors when the AirPower unit first started up suggest that it was never calibrated and, therefore, probably never used.
By fiddling with the device, 91Tech was able to find quite a bit of information about the prototype such as the firmware installation date of June 7, 2017, commands to select specific coils, and more. The AirPower prototype features 22 coils and is similar to others that have leaked in the past. According to several patent filings related to the AirPower, Apple had envisioned versions with either 16 or 22 coils, and the 22-coil design appears to be the one Cupertino settled on.
The AirPower charger missed its originally planned launch in 2018, and after a large number of setbacks during its development, Apple outright cancelled the project in March 2019. In any case, this relic remains an extremely rare collector's item and, above all, a witness to a soap opera that inflamed the tech market.