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Power Apple

Why Apple Won't Adopt a Wireless Charging Standard 184

Lucas123 writes As the battle for mobile dominance continues among three wireless charging standards, with many smartphone and wearable makers having already chosen sides, Apple continues to sit on the sideline. While the new Apple Watch uses a tightly coupled magnetic inductive wireless charging technology, it still requires a cable. The only advantage is that no port is required, allowing the watch case to remain sealed and water resistant. The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, however, remain without any form of wireless charging, either tightly coupled inductive or more loosely coupled resonant charging. Over the past few years, Apple has filed patents on its own flavor of wireless charging, a "near field" or resonant technology, but no products have as yet come to market. If and when it does select a technology, it will likely be its own proprietary specification, which ensures accessory makers will have to pay royalties to use it.
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Why Apple Won't Adopt a Wireless Charging Standard

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 13, 2015 @07:27PM (#49253601)

    So next year, Apple will "invent" it for the masses, using their own proprietary (read: expensive) version of it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by zlives ( 2009072 )

      even AC understands this is no news for anybody let alone nerds!!

      • I just forgot to log in at work
      • by TeknoHog ( 164938 ) on Friday March 13, 2015 @07:57PM (#49253773) Homepage Journal

        Real Nerds know that you need AC for wireless charging, DC just won't cut it.

        Seriously though, my opinion as a physicist/engineer is that wireless charging is a little dumb. It wastes a lot of power in an age where energy conservation is paramount, for what exactly? It's not like you can charge your phone from a distance. Inductive charging is a sensible tradeoff in things like dil^Welectric toothbrushes -- just because it can be done, doesn't mean it's great for everything.

        • It's not like you can charge your phone from a distance.

          That's coming, and soon. There's a standard coming now which does it at up to 10W, which is enough to run many small devices outright.

          • by Carewolf ( 581105 ) on Saturday March 14, 2015 @05:44AM (#49255339) Homepage

            It's not like you can charge your phone from a distance.

            That's coming, and soon. There's a standard coming now which does it at up to 10W, which is enough to run many small devices outright.

            I doubt it. You either have to point a beam very accurately or you lose efficiency to cube of distance. Using a 100W to get 10W a meter away is just not very acceptable.

            • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) *

              The system demonstrated by Intel did aim a narrow beam at the receiver. It did it automatically after locating the target with a low power radio link. WiFi already does this to a much lesser extent in the latest versions using beam forming and multiple antennas.

            • I doubt it.

              If only you knew how to use google [fuckinggoogleit.com] then perhaps you would be informed [technologyreview.com].

              Yes, the prototype is grossly inefficient. And yes, the final product will also be grossly inefficient. But for very small devices like watches, it makes perfect sense. You're only going to need to deliver small wattage to them anyway.

        • by macs4all ( 973270 ) on Friday March 13, 2015 @10:47PM (#49254451)

          Real Nerds know that you need AC for wireless charging, DC just won't cut it.

          Seriously though, my opinion as a physicist/engineer is that wireless charging is a little dumb. It wastes a lot of power in an age where energy conservation is paramount, for what exactly? It's not like you can charge your phone from a distance. Inductive charging is a sensible tradeoff in things like dil^Welectric toothbrushes -- just because it can be done, doesn't mean it's great for everything.

          As a practical matter, the efficiencies are affected by the frequency of the AC Signal. At 50/60 Hz, there are significant losses to heat, due to poor power-factor numbers as well as problems with core saturation (esp. At 50 Hz). However, if you crank the frequency up to about 100 kHz, like a lot of SMPS designs, things begin to look a lot better. Crank it up again, to a few MHz, and the efficiencies get really good, and the components get pretty damned small.

          But, as a "physicist/engineer" (which no one who was really either of those would call themselves), you should already know all this.

          And beside all that, the measly few Watts that are needed to charge a phone in a reasonable period of time aren't going to deplete the planet's energy reserves anytime soon. Even a poor transformer operating in the 60 Hz world typically achieves over 80% efficiency in it's energy transfer from Primary to Secondary. So, extrapolating from the real-world example of the original 10W iPhone "cube" charger, you would only have to increase that to around 12W to overcome the 20% loss from a small air-gap.

          I am NOT talking about charging-at-a-distance. The inverse-square law gets you pretty quick when doing that!

          • by gavron ( 1300111 )

            AC transformer PF is 1.0. AC Transformer efficiency is generally between 95%-99%. See a novice primer at https://www.physicsforums.com/... [physicsforums.com].

            • by dan42 ( 740934 )
              Efficiency is all about what you are willing to pay for. Most low power and small transformers are much lower efficiency.

              20W output at 66% full load efficiency [hammondmfg.com]

              Some transformers can have high efficiency when running at light loads - but that means you just paid extra for an oversized transformer. In general, copper losses go up with the square of load current and iron (core) losses go up with the square of voltage. Of course a 30MW transformer will be designed for higher efficiencies - no one wants to pa

          • by jwdb ( 526327 )

            So:

            • - Each iPhone charger would have a loss of 2 W
            • - There's over a billion iPhones sold, so let's estimate that a third of those are still in circulation. That ignores iPods, other smartphones, tablets, and whatever else you might want to charge wirelessly.
            • - I would estimate a typical modern smartphone phone needs an hour of charge per day

            2 W * (1/24) * 3e8 = 25 MW

            That's an extra gas turbine, small wind farm, or similar, just to compensate for the losses of chargers, and not taking into account the fact that

            • by mspohr ( 589790 )

              Worldwide domestic electricity consumption is about 2e16
              Your calculation of waste is 2.5e7
              There are other electric energy inefficiencies (such as your "always on" TV or computer) that waste much more energy to worry about. This is not even a rounding error.
              In personal terms: My solar panels generate about 25 kWh per day... that should cover the 2Wh I waste charging my phone each day.

        • Energy conservation is paramount when you run on batteries, not for a charger connected to the power socket. Anyway I found it dumb too.
        • Personally, I hate fumbling with MicroUSB cables and my phone. I don't exactly have sausage fingers, but trying to put in that cable when I'm half asleep, the light on my nightstand is off (and I've been reading an eBook) and the end of the cable is loose *somewhere* on the nightstand is really annoying,

          With wireless charging, I place the phone on the rather large/hard-to-miss charger pad, get immediate visual confirmation that the phone is in fact charging and therefore properly on the pad, and can go to s

        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) *

          It depends what the trade off between the energy wasted by wireless charging and the waste from broken cables/connectors is.

          Wireless charging is slower than wired charging which extends battery life. Fast charging warms the batteries and causes them to degrade faster. Slow wired chargers are worth keeping for overnight use, to make your batteries last longer.

        • Meh. It depends on what you mean by "a lot". I think we're better off pushing for better heating/cooling solutions and more fuel efficient cars than insisting consumers screw around with micro usb cables to save a handful of watt-hours per year.

          Also, I love how you think inductively charging your wireless toothbrush is "sensible" but making it easier to keep a life-saving device like a cell phone fully charged is, apparently, not.
          • Also, I love how you think inductively charging your wireless toothbrush is "sensible" but making it easier to keep a life-saving device like a cell phone fully charged is, apparently, not.

            Screwing around with micro-usb is a lot more practical when you don't have to worry about a wet environment. Of course, there are also waterproof and otherwise more rugged phones, so inductive charging makes more sense for them.

            Also, in such a comparison, you need to consider how many lives are actually saved by _easier_ charging -- somehow most people manage to keep their phones charged with old-fashioned connectors, and only a tiny fraction of all phone usage is related to saving lives. Of course you'l

        • I saw somewhere that the cost of charging your phone for a year is about $0.50. I don't think we're going to deplete world energy reserves using less efficient phone chargers.

    • by WilliamGeorge ( 816305 ) on Friday March 13, 2015 @07:32PM (#49253623)

      Yup, and then all the Apple-heads will flock to it, talk about how amazing it is (ignoring the fact that the same capabilities existed before, from other companies). Their social zeal and Apple's marketing will overwhelm the field, and at some point everyone will call all wireless chargers "iChargers" even if only half of them are, and the others are actually other brands / technologies that work similarly but pre-dated it. Such is the power - the evil power - that Apple exerts in our dark age...

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Their social zeal and Apple's marketing will overwhelm the field, and at some point everyone will call all wireless chargers "iChargers" even if only half of them are, and the others are actually other brands / technologies that work similarly but pre-dated it.

        Sadly, that is probably actually what will happen.

        When Steve Jobs died, major news sites like CNN ran stories proclaiming that he "invented the computer mouse". Steve Jobs. Now granted maybe someone typed "Jobs" when they meant to type "Engelbart" as a mere innocent slip of the fingers. Could happen!

        • by macs4all ( 973270 ) on Friday March 13, 2015 @10:51PM (#49254465)

          Their social zeal and Apple's marketing will overwhelm the field, and at some point everyone will call all wireless chargers "iChargers" even if only half of them are, and the others are actually other brands / technologies that work similarly but pre-dated it.

          Sadly, that is probably actually what will happen.

          When Steve Jobs died, major news sites like CNN ran stories proclaiming that he "invented the computer mouse". Steve Jobs. Now granted maybe someone typed "Jobs" when they meant to type "Engelbart" as a mere innocent slip of the fingers. Could happen!

          Excuse me, but now it's Apple's fault that CNN can't do research?

          • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

            Excuse me, but now it's Apple's fault that CNN can't do research?

            They're partially complicit, they could have contacted CNN to point out that they were wrong. They could have dumped out a press release on their website saying it was incorrect, but they didn't. They simply rode the train because it was the easiest thing to do.

            • Excuse me, but now it's Apple's fault that CNN can't do research?

              They're partially complicit, they could have contacted CNN to point out that they were wrong. They could have dumped out a press release on their website saying it was incorrect, but they didn't. They simply rode the train because it was the easiest thing to do.

              Can you prove they even knew about one random news story among literally millions? And just how many of those news stories contained inaccuracies both big and small? How many hours of tracking down the right people at those news organizations do you think it would have taken, only to have them return a call several days later, after Jobs' death was already a non-story? And can you imagine how it was at Apple in the days following Jobs' death?

              You live in some sort of fantasy world if you think Apple acted

        • I believe it. He specifically claimed that Apple invented multitouch during the iPhone launch even though it had been around for a very long time. The media just refused to call him on his lies.

      • by macs4all ( 973270 ) on Friday March 13, 2015 @10:49PM (#49254457)

        Yup, and then all the Apple-heads will flock to it, talk about how amazing it is (ignoring the fact that the same capabilities existed before, from other companies). Their social zeal and Apple's marketing will overwhelm the field, and at some point everyone will call all wireless chargers "iChargers" even if only half of them are, and the others are actually other brands / technologies that work similarly but pre-dated it. Such is the power - the evil power - that Apple exerts in our dark age...

        If you really believe that, you need help.

        • You must not know any of them. I do, they exist, and they behave as described. Not every Apple user is like that (I'm certainly not, I own a MacBook Pro and I love it, but have no interest in pretty much anything else Apple makes), but those people do exist and they're vocal enough that they appear to be the majority, whether they are or not.
      • Your definition of evil and mine are very different. In fact, you degrade the term to the point of making it meaningless.

        • I was mostly being sarcastic - there are many more things far more evil than Apple and their influence on culture.

          However, I would point out that falseness / untruth / lies / misinformation is indeed evil, in my opinion. Such things are used to control people without their realizing, and are the opposite of truth / honesty / genuine intellectual pursuit of knowledge. That is, then, a degree of evil - though not on par with murder, for example.

    • followed by lawsuits against all other wireless charging station makers
    • by guruevi ( 827432 )

      What mainstream? None of my devices (and I have a lot of them) have wireless charge options. There are aftermarket options but looking at the tech, it is incredibly wasteful and destructive to the batteries.

      • by mspohr ( 589790 )

        All of my family phones and tablets (about 5 at last count) have wireless charging. I won't buy a phone without that capability. It's just so much more convenient than fumbling with a connector.

      • Simple inductive charging (which looks like what you're talking about when you say "wireless" in your comment) is mainstream.

        Wireless charging has been around for electric tooth brushes for at least 5 years now, maybe 10. It's been so long I won't even bother to give names.
        Wireless charging for cosmetic electronics like the the Claresonic face brush has been around for at least 5 years.
        Wireless charging for sex toys has been around for 3-5 years, for an example see the Wee-Vibe.
        Wireless charging for el
    • Apple has filed patents on its own flavor of wireless charging, a "near field" or resonant technology
      Resonant wireless electricity transmission [wikipedia.org] was invented by Nikolas Tesla over 100 years ago.

      but no products have as yet come to market
      That part is just like Nikolas Teslas work too [wikipedia.org].

      A lot of people have been working on this on the past decade. It's probably been displayed on every IDF (Intel Developer Forum) since by so many companies that I can't even remember the names of them all. That and Peltier cooling

    • Yes, I hate all of Apple's proprietary standards. Like how they used AAC for their iTunes store, or mini-DisplayPort for the video connectors. And then they used Thunderbolt. Oh, and now they're using USB Type-C ports.

      If you're confused as to why I grouped USB Type-C ports in there, it's because I was being sarcastic. Contrary to popular belief, none of those things that I listed are Apple proprietary technology. AAC does not stand for "Apple Audio Codec", and it's a standard put out by the same people who put out the MP3 standard, but actually has had fewer patent issues. Mini-DisplayPort was created by Apple, but the turned it into an open standard that is completely free to use, with no patent issues. Thunderbolt is a standard that Intel created, though supposedly Apple helped develop it. It's being used on lots of non-Apple hardware.

      I guess the MagSafe port is proprietary. It's also really good, and they were smart to develop it. iPhones and iPads have the Lightning port, which was apparently used because they found the specs for the current USB micro connectors to be insufficient. There have been some rumors that Apple helped develop the USB Type-C ports because they wanted a replacement for USB's current micro connectors that would be usable in their products. Their wireless communications are all WiFi and Bluetooth. A lot of their software is based on open-sourced software.

      Yes, obviously not all of their software is open source, and they aren't producing commodity hardware. However, it doesn't really make sense to imply that they refuse to follow standards and instead create more expensive non-compatible alternatives.

    • This is what has happened again and again. If it was limited to Apple fanboys it might be tolerable, but the mainstream media insists on parroting the view that Steve Jobs invented things that trailblazers were doing 5+ years before.

      I especially loved the fallout from the iPhone 1 vs. Android third party application situation with the full on meme-generating commerical blitz--"There's an app for that!" Yes, there's an app for that. Because competition from Android forced you to abandon some of your dracon
  • Data transfers (Score:3, Informative)

    by m0gely ( 1554053 ) on Friday March 13, 2015 @07:30PM (#49253611)
    Charging isn't the only thing the cable does. When you want to sync those multi-GB's of pictures, music and videos or do an iTunes backup, you'll want the cable.
    • by Osgeld ( 1900440 )

      fair enough, but I charge my phone much more frequently than transfering multi-GB's, so for those rare times I will use the cable, every other day though wireless would be nifty

    • if "Wireless charging has hit the mainstream 1-2 years ago" like the thread above is saying, wireless exchange of data even more so.

      Beaming single files (contacts infos, sending some piece of data, etc) over IrDA was all th craze back then when the first PDA emerged (PDA: you rememmber, those pocket computer with a touch screen that where here ago long ago before Apple 'rediscovered' the form factor).

      Then bluetooth started gaining traction and its OBEX feature was even more popular (the standard to sync yo

    • by antdude ( 79039 )

      It bugged me when Apple dropped USB cable syn(hronization) feature in Mac OS X 10.9. Lots of iDevice users were angry and made Apple add it back in the later versions.

      • Re:Data transfers (Score:5, Informative)

        by Rosyna ( 80334 ) on Saturday March 14, 2015 @02:54AM (#49255083) Homepage

        It bugged me when Apple dropped USB cable syn(hronization) feature in Mac OS X 10.9. Lots of iDevice users were angry and made Apple add it back in the later versions.

        Something that never happened bugged you? Apple never removed cable syncing from Mac OS X and iOS devices.

        What did change, in Mavericks, was that SyncServices was removed. SyncServices was only responsible for syncing calendars and contact information and without it iCloud was required to sync calendars and contacts. iTunes still synced everything else.

        SyncServices was added back in Mac OS X 10.9.3. But at no time did they remove the ability to sync music, photos, videos, apps, or anything other than contacts and calendars from iTunes.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) *

      I get about 15MB/sec to my OnePlus One over WiFi. A 5GB backup is going to take about 6 minutes.

    • by mspohr ( 589790 )

      If you're plugging your phone in to backup photos, etc., you're doing it wrong. Every device (about 5 now) that I have backs up wirelessly, automatically.

  • They use thunderbolt cables? Or their phones and tablets don't have external memory cards or proper cables? Maybe it's because they treat their entire business model as a closed system locked up tighter than North Korea yet their customers are super happy despite their monopoly; the apple business model isthe envy of CEOs around the world so why ruin a good thing?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Tailhook ( 98486 )

      so why ruin a good thing?

      Pretty much. As long as their fapples reward them Apple will remain a standards-hostile company.

    • by JaredOfEuropa ( 526365 ) on Friday March 13, 2015 @08:11PM (#49253855) Journal
      Their customers (like me) are happy because the Apple stuff works well for them. There's annoyances like proprietay cables, and frustration over the reluctance of Apple to open up some of their APIs; we have custom keyboards and widgets at last, but still no Siri. But for me, those are minor. I've tried Android as well on a phone and tablets, and hated it. A friend of mine (who switched from Apple to Android) explained it well: "The advantage of Android is that you are free to tweak everything to your liking. The disadvantage is that you have to". For me, Apple's garden suits me well enough to not really even notice the wall that rings it. Complain about Apple's design choices, questionable business policies, their treatment of consumers, and the locked-down environment, and I'll agree. But my next phone will still be an iPhone because I want one that'll do what I want it to, right out of the box.

      I did keep the Android tablet... the ability to just grab files from my local NAS, work with them, move them, that's something sorely missing on the iPad.
      • the ability to just grab files from my local NAS, work with them, move them, that's something sorely missing on the iPad.

        you would thing by now apple would get the clue. Remember early IOS didnt even have copy paste???

        Only in the apple universe is taking functionality away (even recently - see new 1 port macbook) an "upgrade"

        • I decided to jailbreak my 3G iphone for just that reason. I kept thinking to myself how insane is was to be missing such an obvious and useful feature. I don't really like apple, and i find many problems with android also. At least there is enough community support you can jailbreak idevices. I'm wondering how long the new watch will take.
        • by Jeremi ( 14640 )

          Only in the apple universe is taking functionality away (even recently - see new 1 port macbook) an "upgrade"

          ... and yet Apple products remain wildly popular. Perhaps Apple is on to something? (That something would be that many users value a simple, trouble-free user experience more than maximizing flexibility; i.e. if there are two ways of doing something, Apple will often decide which way is better and then drop support for the other approach. After that, future users of that product have one less decision to make, and therefore one less thing that have to worry about screwing up. It's the paradox of choice [wikipedia.org]

          • by ganjadude ( 952775 ) on Friday March 13, 2015 @10:33PM (#49254403) Homepage
            oh dont get me wrong, I do love apple. It takes a large number of people who i used to fix their things for free to telling them to talk to apple because i dont do it.

            but as a power user, and i think thats who makes up the majority of this site, in no way does taking away functionality = an upgrade
            • by zieroh ( 307208 ) on Friday March 13, 2015 @10:40PM (#49254425)

              oh dont get me wrong, I do love apple. It takes a large number of people who i used to fix their things for free to telling them to talk to apple because i dont do it.

                but as a power user, and i think thats who makes up the majority of this site, in no way does taking away functionality = an upgrade

              You're being far too reasonable. Where's the inchoate rage at the existence of any product not tailor-made for linux geeks? Where's the cognitive dissonance caused by other people liking something that you yourself do not approve of?

          • by Shados ( 741919 )

            Oh, that strategy does work to some extent for sure. Though Apple's success has a lot more to do with their godly beyond comprehension marketing department than anything about the actual product. SOME of their product decisions don't hurt either, but its far from the main reason they're so popular.

      • the ability to just grab files from my local NAS, work with them, move them, that's something sorely missing on the iPad.

        https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/remote-file-manager/id608738784?mt=8 [apple.com]

  • by Osgeld ( 1900440 )

    not invented here

    besides since apple didnt slap a brand name on it the second a competitor came out with it then acted like they invented it it may be a while before it starts creeping into their designs, besides they cant put a proprietary connector that breaks with 6 weeks of usage on wireless

  • If you look at the Nokia phones, the ones with wireless charging are thicker than those without. Personally I'm happy to trade the clunky form for the convenience, I don't think Jony Ives feels the same way.
    • If you look at the Nokia phones, the ones with wireless charging are thicker than those without.

      Then don't look at the phones. Close your eyes and feel the lack of thickness.

  • that Apple would never release a flagship product that didn't rely exclusively on proprietary technology! Just look at the new MacBook, and it's utter dependence on proprietary chargers ... oh, wait ...

  • for this specific reason. Though it looks like Apple may be able to survive the loss of that particular sale.

    Seriously though, wireless charging, throwing out cables, is one of those "how did we manage before it" kind of conveniences. I unboxed my phone two years ago and it has never once been connected to a cable.

  • That doesn't have to be plugged in to charge all your gear? Where can I order one of those?

  • They couldn't lock it up to only their use and sue everyone else outta the market.
  • The same people that constantly harp on being green and saving the environment are all upset that they can't waste energy on inductive charging.
  • Why all this hype around a technology that involves applying electric fields strong enough to induce electrical currents high enough to recharge an electronic device, which is DANGEROUS to do with electronic equipment (you can fry the device)? Not to mention the serious problem of electromagnetic interference in what is around? It is not much safer simply connect a cable to the device?
    • Why all this hype around a technology that involves applying electric fields strong enough to induce electrical currents high enough to recharge an electronic device, which is DANGEROUS to do with electronic equipment (you can fry the device)? Not to mention the serious problem of electromagnetic interference in what is around? It is not much safer simply connect a cable to the device?

      In my opinion, yes.
      And I don't freak out about the "radiation" of normal phones and WLAN like some people do.
      I've also heard that it's inefficient. OR rather, even less efficient than charging via cable.

  • I read that as "Wireless Charging Bastard" for a moment. I could totally see Apple adopting some kid (Regardless of parentage!) and making him charge all their devices!
  • wireless charging mats are gimmicky anyways.

    The device still has to be right on top of the mat, and they never work quite as well as wires. Like plugging in a cable is that much harder anyways. The mat still has to be plugged in so it's not like you can charge and walk around or anything.

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