Apple wants to radically change how you charge your iPhone.
While existing wireless charging systems work by placing a phone on a mat rather than plugging it in, Apple wants to let users charge their iPhones and iPads a distance away from the power source, Bloomberg reports, citing people familiar with the plans. Apple has been in discussions with partners in the US and Asia to develop the technology, which could be in iPhones by 2017, the news service said.
Apple has previously expressed dislike for conventional wireless-charging technology. In a 2012 interview with now-defunct tech blog AllThingsD, Apple SVP Phil Schiller said, “Having to create another device you have to plug into the wall is actually, for most situations, more complicated.”
However, the company has filed patents related to wireless charging that might eliminate the need for a separate plug-in device. A 2010 patent demonstrates an Apple computer being used as a sort of “hub” that would charge devices within a 1 meter vicinity. Another patent highlighted aluminum phone casings that allowed radio waves to pass through, which could be used for wireless charging.
Even if Apple figures out how to solve some critical issues—like how long it takes to fully charge a device, maintain power levels over longer distances, safety and interference concerns, to name a few—it probably won’t replace your charging cable any time soon. But the benefit of passively charging your phone wirelessly throughout the day and night could help ensure that it never runs out of juice.