Apple’s plans to develop wireless charging have emerged as the company recalls millions of its AC plug adapters due to safety concerns.
The voluntary recall came as Apple discovered that two-prong Apple AC plug adapters in Continental Europe, Argentina, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand and South Korea had suffered incidents of breaking and causing electric shocks.
The adapters shipped between 2003 and 2015 with Mac and certain iOS devices, as well as in the Apple World Travel Adapter Kit.
"Customer safety is always Apple’s top priority, and we have voluntarily decided to exchange affected wall plug adapters with a new, redesigned adapter, free of charge," Apple said on its website.
News about Apple’s potential solution to these issues emerged almost simultaneously; according to Bloomberg, the company is developing wireless charging technology for a launch in 2017.
This would allow iPhones and iPads to be powered from further away than is necessary for the charging mats currently available.
Bloomberg reported that Apple wishes to overcome barriers including the loss of power over distance.
Wireless charging could be a key technology for future mobile devices as the focus moves away from gimmicks on the devices towards more basic customer convenience needs.
One of the most common criticisms of the Apple Watch was the regularity with which it has to be charged; it has roughly an 18-hour all-day battery life based on a series of standardised figures for usage, according to Apple.
However, if the Apple Watch could be charged automatically without the need to connect to a dock or a power outlet, it might remove this customer frustration.
Samsung, Sony and Google offer charging pad technologies already.
Seho Park, Principal Engineer, IT & Mobile Division at Samsung Electronics, wrote on the company’s "Samsung Tomorrow" blog at the beginning of 2015 that the potential benefits of the technology included its increased accessibility and ease of use.
"Wireless charging comes with several benefits to the consumer that will bring about a new wave of multiple device integration and convenience. The most obvious benefit is the absence of power cords that are so easily tangled, broken or lost.
"Consumers have been crying out for a simple wireless charging solution that frees them from the need to carry several different chargers for multiple devices."
Of course, the device-makers are only one part of the equation. In the future, high street stores and restaurants may provide the charging mechanism.
For example, Starbucks announced at the beginning of 2015 that it had installed wireless charging pads across Great Portaland Street, Pentonville Road, Euston Tower, Harewood Place, Princes Street, Kingsway, Wardour Street, Berkeley Street, Moorgate and Fleet Street.