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Apple's AirPower may not be dead yet, and more tech news you need to know

Despite the Laws of Thermodynamics, Apple's apparently not giving up on the any-angle wireless charging mat.

Published onMarch 23, 2020

Apple AirPower

Your tech digest, by way of the DGiT Daily newsletter, for Monday, March 23. 

1. Apple AirPower: not dead yet?

Apple AirPower

Probably the hottest rumor over the weekend in tech outside of the swirling tech vs COVID-19 efforts is that Apple AirPower might not be dead and buried after all.

  • Tech analyst/leaker/YouTuber Jon Prosser is currently on a tear with Apple leaks and rumors via his Twitter account, enough so that he claims Apple is now investigating his leaks. (Which apparently, was leaked as well. Right.)
  • It’s never clear with these characters exactly what is inside info, what isn’t, and what’s close to the truth or not.
  • It’s a game within a game at times, a whole thing.
  • But to the news itself: Prosser’s latest leak, if you believe it, is that Apple hasn’t thrown its embarrassing AirPower project away completely, and is still working to make it happen.

Quick recap:

  • Apple announced in September 2017 a wireless charger called AirPower that could wirelessly charge an iPhone, Apple Watch and AirPods all at the same time.
  • By March 2019, 18 months later, Apple finally admitted it couldn’t make the device.
  • “After much effort, we’ve concluded AirPower will not achieve our high standards and we have cancelled the project,” said Dan Riccio, Apple’s senior vice president of Hardware Engineering, at the time.

The leak:

  • Prosser’s tweets say it’s “back on”, noting problems with the heat dissipation: “The project is back on, internally. No guarantee that they’ll finalize and release it, but they haven’t given up yet and they’re trying to re-engineer the coils to displace heat more effectively. Prototyping is underway.”
  • He later followed that with a key point: “Note: None of the current prototypes support Apple Watch – that’s their biggest hurdle right now.
  • “They refuse to release a version that doesn’t work with Apple Watch. They’re re-engineering from scratch.”
  • The problem remains that Apple indicated you could align any device anywhere on the mat and it’d wirelessly charge. Current third-party options require you to line up devices in key spots.
  • That requires hefty charging coils – literally coiled wires – that get hot while in use because wireless charging is inefficient: lots more power goes into the coils than the device receives.
  • That heat needs to go somewhere and a thin mat can’t do that work.
  • It’s entirely plausible Apple still has a few boffins at least trying to make it work.
  • Physics is the problem. Apple doesn’t have to invent a new form of matter, but avoiding a mat with any compromises still seems remarkably difficult, unless water-cooling or thermal loads can be managed in new ways.

2. ZTE Axon 11 5G launched: Why pay a premium for 5G? (Android Authority).

3. Amazon Prime Video finally gets one of Netflix’s most basic features: profiles (Android Authority).

4. 7 geeky things to do with your devices during the coronavirus lockdown (Android Authority).

5. Amazon Prime delivery delays are now as long as a month for non-essential items (Vox). Here’s Jeff Bezos’ note to Amazonians over the weekend, too: “my own time and thinking is now wholly focused on COVID-19 and on how Amazon can best play its role” ( Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s email sent to Microsoft employees is out too (Linkedin).

6. This is how you do that Zoom background thing everyone is talking about (CNET).

7. Netflix has offered its data cuts to all ISPs, not just in Europe and the UK: the likes of Australia and Israel have asked it and others to help with internet congestion, while India may be next. Facebook also dropped video quality on Instagram in the EU, though that’s not in this report (Variety).

8. Updated compilation of Italian Mayors losing it at people violating COVID-19 quarantine. Yes, subtitles are accurate (Twitter).

9. IBM, White House, Department of Energy, and others launch consortium to give coronavirus researchers access to supercomputers: 330-plus petaflops of computing power (VentureBeat).

10. Working from home is ruining your posture. Here’s how to fix it (Wired).

11. Animal Crossing: New Horizons is a much-needed escape from everything. The launch blew all previous Animal Crossing launches out of the water, and I know a family that bought one copy for each member so they can all enjoy each other’s islands. Cute! (Polygon).

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