What it is: Wireless charging is coming soon. The question is whose standard will it follow?
A wireless charging company called Energous is rumored to be working with a large smartphone manufacturer, which could be Apple or Samsung or someone else entirely. In the past, Apple has preferred to develop their own technology to avoid using the same technology that rivals can purchase and use as well. However, wireless charging is different.
When you go to a public place such as an airport terminal or coffeehouse, you can use WiFi. Imagine if Apple followed one WiFi standard and everyone else followed a different WiFi standard. Chances are good most places wouldn’t bother offering WiFi at all. WiFi has to be a standard so Apple has to follow that standard to remain compatible with everyone else in the world.
Wireless charging will likely be no different. Right now, Apple uses a proprietary Lightning connector for their iOS devices. If you have an Android smartphone or tablet and want to use a Lightning connector, you can’t. However, a Lightning connector, a USB connector, and a micro-USB connector all can plug into a standard electrical outlet. Public places like restaurants and libraries offer electrical outlets for people to charge their devices. Now what happens when wireless charging becomes the norm?
The Holy Grail of wireless charging is to make it act like WiFi. Put a charging transmitter in a room and any device within range can receive a charge from that device, much like any computer can receive WiFi from a WiFi router. That means Apple will have to follow a wireless charging standard, which might explain why they belong to group to promote a wireless charging standard called Qi.
Imagine an airport terminal or library offering a Qi wireless charger. Now anyone within range can charge their devices. Unlike Apple’s quest for proprietary solutions in components such as processors, wireless charging standards is one feature that Apple can’t afford to ignore.
Of course, Qi isn’t the only wireless charging standard. There’s also AirFuel. That means the world has to choose between Qi and AirFuel, so wireless charging will soon be a common feature identical between all devices in the same way that WiFi capability is essentially the same between all devices.
Look to see which wireless standard Apple adopts and that’s likely the one the rest of the world will adopt as well. While this will negate any advantage for Apple, it will help advance once standard over the other. Wireless charging is coming soon where you won’t have to plug your device in to recharge it any more than you have to plug an Ethernet cable into your device to get Internet access in a public place.
Wireless charging is the next big feature that everyone will follow. When it arrives, people will wonder how they ever get along without it.