Recent Apple hirings fuel rumors of contactless wireless charging for future iPhones and iPads

Recent Apple hirings fuel rumors of contactless wireless charging for future iPhones and iPads
As recently discovered by The Verge, Apple has recently hired two wireless charging experts from uBeam, a startup that's working on contactless wireless charging. Further digging on Linkedin shows that Apple has hired more than a dozen people with wireless charging expertise in the past two years.

A few months ago, a Bloomberg report quoting unnamed insider sources claimed that Apple is working on a technology that would allow future iPhone models to be wirelessly charged. According to this report, the technology could make its way to the iPhone series starting with the 2017 models.

The most interesting thing about Bloomberg's report is the fact that Apple was said to be working on a way to wirelessly charge iPhones without the need of a wireless charging mat or stand. In this context, the fact that Apple has hired two people from uBeam bears special importance, seeing that contactless wireless charging is exactly what the startup has been working on.

uBeam's experimental technology uses ultrasonic waves to charge nearby devices. This may sound like a sci-fi dream come true, but it's worth pointing out that a former uBeam engineer has recently criticized the startup, claiming that the technology is nowhere near commercial release. Interestingly, these comments (read them all by heading over to the secondary source link below) come from Paul Reynolds, one of the two uBeam engineers which have joined the Apple camp.

At the moment, we have yet to see a real-world demonstration of efficient contactless wireless charging. As such, we can't be sure that this is indeed what Apple is working on. Furthermore, even if Apple is actually testing a contactless wireless charging technology, there's no guarantee that its efforts will ever see the light of day. Apple is routinely investigating experimental technologies and just a fraction of these get real-world implementations.

The Apple Watch is the only device in Apple's current roster that makes use of wireless charging. However, this is a contact-based technology, just like the one that Samsung and other premium smartphone makers are equipping their flagship devices with.

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36 Comments

1. Mxyzptlk unregistered

Come on Apple, bring us a game changer and knock it out of the pork.

4. Unordinary unregistered

Wireless charging will continue to be slightly less than a gimmick until it becomes truly wireless/contactless. Its nice for night stands and what not, but a cord still wins. Who wants to hold/squeeze a brick-like charging base against their phone in bed? It's got its pros, but also it's got its cons. Hopefully Apple will fix this.

7. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

You mean how this already is contactless and is suppoted by an phone using Qualcomm's SnapDragon 800 or above? https://www.qualcomm.com/products/wipower https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WiPower Qualcomm purchase WiPower before Apple decided to patent the same technology on their own by some other means. Look at the videos on the page. You will see that not only is it wireless, it is contact-less. The Galaxy S5 and Note 3 were the first Samsung's to support this. Hwoever th devices didnt come with the required backcover, but it was available on Samsung's website. It also works with metal phones, but it must be covered with a special case. This is why Samsung pioneered their own concept where it supports both types of available wireless chargers. The present Galaxy S7's with the 820 also support Qualcomm's aquired WiPower contactless charging. The S6's don;t support this, because they are all using the Exynos.

10. RebelwithoutaClue

Posts: 5473; Member since: Apr 05, 2013

Sorry man, but WiPower is hardly contactless when it needs to be hovering a few inches max above the charging area. It's not like you can make phone calls while it charges. It is a cool thing for charging your wireless keyboard and mice though.

20. Settings

Posts: 2942; Member since: Jul 02, 2014

And less average joes knew those features, only geeks. The problem is these features are taken for granted while when Apple launches the same features years later its the next big thing.

9. RebelwithoutaClue

Posts: 5473; Member since: Apr 05, 2013

It's great for nightstands, work desk, personal desks, lightstands (from Ikea), etc. Just keep it charged enough all the time (just put it on the charger every time) and there is hardly no need to get the cord out. I only use a cord 1 out of 20 times or so.

23. MEeee

Posts: 383; Member since: Oct 19, 2011

Samsung invested millions of dollars into this tech since 2013.http://www.androidauthority.com/samsung-magnetic-resonance-charging-283746/

25. AlikMalix unregistered

You can invest thousands of dollars into a hooker, she still won't be your girlfriend. It's great that everyone is investing to make gadgets better - but isn't it about who gets it to work, work right, and make it available to the masses (not talking about Apple - just generally speaking). Filing a patent isn't research I don't care if you're Samsung or Apple - it's getting that idea in my hands that matters to me. For example - I've seen patent filings for forcetouch, I hd my skepticism and my doubts, but now it's in my hands, it works, it works correctly, it does make my UI better, and I'm enjoying it - and I would not want to use another phone without it. I don't care if someone else was working on forcetouch for the past 20 years - they didn't give it to me - Apple did, Apple also gave it to the app developers and look how well they responded. Now I'm waiting for REAL WIRELESS CHARGING. It was something that I pondered about before there were cellphones in everyone's hands. It would be great if one of these big guys figure out how to make it work for the masses, manufacturing, and make sure there's no issues. It doesn't matter if it's Apple or Asus or Samsung or MS. Just want that to be a reality. Someone working on this thing in some lab and showing it off on YouTube is not reality but a tease. Samsung is probably investing in the wrong R&D if Apple gets there before them.

27. siddharthayadav202

Posts: 286; Member since: Apr 23, 2016

Ok.. You are making is sound like apple is better at R&D than samsung which is purely wrong. Though you are trying to sound fair.

32. AlikMalix unregistered

Not really, just the context of post that I'm replying to contains " so what that Apple is working on this - Samsung has been working on this since 2013". So my reply is a counter active to his comment - naturally it would sound like that. I'm fully aware that this is a rumor and Apple is could just as well be no where close to over the air charging unlike Samsung.

35. TerryTerius unregistered

I'm going to have to kind of disagree with you on your point about pressure sensitivity. Because it was in no way shape or form a new concept. That's just taking an existing technology/idea and implementing it into your product. But if they do get it right when it comes to true wireless charging, that's a different story entirely and would be a legitimate revolution as well as a world first. I also strongly disagree with you saying that someone working on in a lab, or elsewhere; on research doesn't matter... but I get what you're saying about it not being a reality until you as a consumer can get your hands on it. But I do agree with the premise of your statement, that it really doesn't matter who it comes from. Good ideas will propagate throughout the entire industry. That's why I don't understand people getting annoyed at companies for copying one another. That's the way humans have worked since our ancestors first fashioned tools. without that, we wouldn't even have the modern world. And that's not an exaggeration. So long as they aren't outright stealing something and at least recognize that they didn't come up with the idea, I have no problem with that. It's when companies pretend as if they deserve credit for something that they simply do not, that it becomes an issue.

2. nctx77

Posts: 2540; Member since: Sep 03, 2013

Now this is a game changer no doubt. Walk in my house or get in my car and boom, my phone charges. Bring on 2017!!

8. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

This game changer has already been implemented on Android since the Note and S5 - https://www.qualcomm.com/products/wipower https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WiPower Apple is still 3 years behind. The only issue I saw is amplifying the range of charging beyond 1 metre.

13. nctx77

Posts: 2540; Member since: Sep 03, 2013

I'm sure there is work behind the curtains trying to get this to work. I'm not arguing that. What I want to see is this actually working in a consumer product that's on the shelf right now. If I can't drive to the store and buy this, it doesn't exist to me. If Apple is 3 years behind, send me a link to an Android phone that I can buy that I can walk in my house or get into my car and it charges. If you can't, then nobody is behind.

16. darkkjedii

Posts: 30678; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

You shut his PMS'ing ass up with that one. +1

21. cherry.dev

Posts: 107; Member since: Apr 15, 2016

lollll, burnnnnn.

30. siddharthayadav202

Posts: 286; Member since: Apr 23, 2016

Are you insane? He said apple is 3 year late in game. So likely they would need to work much much more to hardwork to match. Why is everyone taking it wrong way?

31. siddharthayadav202

Posts: 286; Member since: Apr 23, 2016

Its like we both start a marathon. I am only 1 km away. You just starte an you are saying you are not behind.

18. 47AlphaTango

Posts: 709; Member since: Sep 27, 2015

LOL! And this one was for the IOS wherein you can charge while holding the unit.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7AFJeaYojhU This works even if you are moving your phone from one place to another.

12. darkkjedii

Posts: 30678; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Notice how he hops from article to article, bothering people? It's like no one can post their thoughts, and look forward to a release, without TechieXP having a rebuttal lol. Dude you act like a grouchy ass nosy neighbor, who always has something to say. Nctx77, I think 2017 will be a big year for Apple as well, bigger than this year. Signs point to them having something up their sleeves.

3. Bankz

Posts: 2460; Member since: Apr 08, 2016

Honestly, the iphone 7 has got to be the most confusing phone in recent time. On one hand, we hear rumors and have seeing leaks (which mostly ends up being true) of a boring and uninspiring update pointing to the fact that most changes will be reserved for its "10th anniversary" 2017 iphone release. On the other hand, we hear that foxconn is hiring massively for what seems to be the most comlex and technologically advanced iphones in its history by may even. Yet, apple hasn't even debuted IOS 10 yet? and today we are hearing that apple will be adding true contactless charging to the Iphone 7 lineups? What's really going on?

19. AlikMalix unregistered

iPhone news gets a lot of interest whether it's baloney or not. I'm not trying to troll with what I'm about to say: you can report on any android or Windows or w/e device and the general public wouldn't care, but you meant ion the word "Apple" or "iPhone" within the same article and it starts to gain interest (I'm not talking about tech forums where nerds like us are swarming - I'm talking about the general publication - most of the news on PA is derived from these places. So writing any rid-bit about apples maybe-sorta-kinda-possibly-slightchance rumors is goldmine for news sites - do they overhype, overwrite, and make a mountain out of a hill - and that's why you see the plethora of anything-Apple news. Frankly, I'm not moved by this stuff unless I see it. But some of the "rumors" are nice to think about.

5. nctx77

Posts: 2540; Member since: Sep 03, 2013

Not the iPhone 7, but the 2017 iPhone. I'm with you though. A more complex design doesn't sound like what we've been seeing at all. What we've seen is basically a camera and chip upgrade to the 6s/6s plus. That is not a complex design that you need to go on a hiring spree for. I wonder if Apple will do an ipad 3/4 type of situation where they release a phone in September and then another one in the Spring 2017.

6. RebelwithoutaClue

Posts: 5473; Member since: Apr 05, 2013

It uses ultrasound waves? So it's a great animal repellent as well ;)

11. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

I welcome the concept. Hopefully Apple has evolved this tech into something useful, because Qualcomm didn't do much with it, after buying WiPower which also already has this tech and was offered and works on any Android using a SanpDragon 800+.

14. AlikMalix unregistered

Techie, why do you keep trying to put android or Samsung on a pedistool so much? No one cares about some experiment from 3 years ago. I've seen videos of iPhone being charged fully in 10 seconds - that doesn't means squat until it's for sale at your local Bestbuy. I told you already - go outside, talk to real people, Samsung isn't going to send you a check for worshiping it, they won't even send you a "thank you" card. I worry about you, your latest posts are delusional. Not trying to be mean to you, I'm serious.

15. darkkjedii

Posts: 30678; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Very good post Alik. He swears he's not a Samsung fanboy, and that he uses iOS. Get serious dude, we know better. +1 Alik.

28. siddharthayadav202

Posts: 286; Member since: Apr 23, 2016

Did you even read what he said? And do not get me wrong but you are doing same thing for Apple.

36. AlikMalix unregistered

He's been promoting wipower 3 to 5 times per article that mentions anything with Apple going for air wireless charging for months now. Even the post I replied to has "wipower which already has this tech" when it's clear y not the thing we're all hoping over-the-air charging should be.

17. sissy246

Posts: 6902; Member since: Mar 04, 2015

He has said many times he has both ios and Android

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