back to article Apple joins one wireless power group, the other one responds with so-happy forced grin

Sharp-eyed fanbois at 9to5Mac have spotted Apple as a new entry on the member list of the Wireless Power Consortium. The Register cares not a jot for what this move may mean for future iThings. But we do care that this decision suggests the rival AirFuel Alliance has its work cut out to remain relevant, because that may be …

  1. HappyBlue
    Coat

    Splitters

    "The Alliance came into being in late 2015, when the rival Alliance for Wireless Power and the Power Matters Alliance decided they'd be better off fighting a common enemy – the Wireless Power Consortium (WPC) – instead of beating up on each other"

    Wasn't there also "The People's Front of Wireless Power", "The Wireless Power People's Front" and "The Wireless Power Front of the People"? Splitters.

    1. AndyS

      Re: Splitters

      I believe the article has been altered to include your joke.

      The names do all seem a bit repetitive. Which I suppose is why this group chose the particularly stupid "Airpower" name. I suppose they could have made it worse, by including a "turbo" or "max" in there somewhere.

      To be honest, I don't really see the need for 3 standards, and don't really care what ends up dominating. Knowing manufacturers' desire to control their bits of kit, it will likely take massive proliferation of different "standards", and then something like the EU ruling on micro-usb connectors for phones, before anything consumer-friendly actually happens.

    2. Cynical Observer
      Trollface

      Re: Splitters

      What did standards ever do for us!

  2. MrDamage

    Will Apple now adhere to the Qi standard

    Or will they continue to cripple it and give a hefty middle finger to world standards?

    The reality distortion field will continue to churn out the alternate fact that it's the fault of the cheap Qi charger they bought, but given their current run of lower-than-normal quality offerings, failure to adhere to the standard could well end up costing them in the long run.

    1. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: Will Apple now adhere to the Qi standard

      Shock, horror, overpriced Apple device only works properly with other overpriced Apple device.

      Hasn't that been their business model for decades?

  3. Mage Silver badge
    Boffin

    Mis-named Wireless

    The systems are not wireless as we know it, but inductive plates/cradles that need a power cable, power supply and power outlet. They are only able to handle a marginal distance more than a traditional DECT phone or two way radio charging dock.

    So while it is slightly useful for a watch, it's a lot less convenient to pack and travel with. I prefer coax mini-jack, mini-usb or micro-usb. My pocket BT GPS, BT earpieces, smart watch all are fine with a connector and same charger my Kindle, Kobo, Tablet and phone uses.

    So really it's not comparable to VHS vs Betamax, as arguably you needed one or the other of those till DVDs came out (VCDs were not great). I can't cheer either outfit.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Mis-named Wireless

      That's a fair point - neither standard is essential for most use-cases (though some users with limited dexterity might find them helpful).

      When I had an Xperia phone with a rubber bung over its USB socket, I was tempted by a magnetic charging dock (which used contact pins) but broke the phone before I bought one.

      Similarly, I'm now tempted by a Qi charging mat for my Nexus 5, but not desperately. If I see one for a tenner, I might pick one up. Bizarrely, the main hurdle to me plugging a USB cable into my Nexus 5 is that the phone is symmetrical, so half the time I'm looking for the socket on the wrong end of the phone!

      1. AMBxx Silver badge

        Re: Mis-named Wireless

        I've had wireless charging on 2 phones now - Lumia 1020 and a 950XL. Wouldn't be without it. My phone sits on my desk most of the time, guaranteed to be fully charged if I need to go out without worrying about potential damage by repeatedly plugging in.

        Once in the car, the wireless car kit keeps it topped up.

        thing I'd really like is a wireless battery backup, but I guess the problem there is needing AC.

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: Mis-named Wireless

          >thing I'd really like is a wireless battery backup, but I guess the problem there is needing AC.

          From what i understand about Qi, it is not as efficient as using a cable. This isn't really problem if your Qi mat is plugged into the mains, but it would mean that a Qi portable battery would have to bigger and heavier than its wired equivalent.

          Tests suggest that Qi can be around 60% efficient. I don't have any data for power loss through USB cable, but a thicker-gauge short cable can be more convenient for using with a portable battery anyway (if you have the phone and battery in the same pocket... I appreciate that some people might want to us etheor hone whilst it is connected to a battery in a bag. )

          http://www.batterypoweronline.com/conferences/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/WirelessConsortium.pdf

          1. dajames Silver badge

            Re: Mis-named Wireless

            Tests suggest that Qi can be around 60% efficient.

            60% efficient means 40% wasteful.

            Mobile devices don't require a lot of power, but increasing the energy consumed while charging to compensate for an unnecessary 40% extra losses merely in the name of convenience leaves me feeling a little uncomfortable with the whole idea.

            I'll stick with wires, thanks.

            1. Eddy Ito Silver badge
              Devil

              Re: Mis-named Wireless

              I heard the new iPhone wireless charging can be done on the stove top if you have induction burners, I believe it's true. Perhaps someone can do an Youtoob video demonstrating how it works on an Apple watch.

        2. phil 27

          Re: Mis-named Wireless

          Do you mean like this :-

          https://www.amazon.co.uk/Wireless-12000mAh-External-Portable-Charging/dp/B01N6NPDFI/

    2. AndyS

      Re: Mis-named Wireless

      > The systems are not wireless as we know it, but ... need a power cable, power supply and power outlet.

      What, unlike a wireless router? Do they run on magic fairy dust without any cables or power? I must need to upgrade, my current one has multiple plugs and wires coming out the back of it.

      I'd call anything wireless which connects to reference device without needing plugged in. And in this case, placing a phone/tablet/watch/mouse etc on a pad (and not plugging it in) is clearly wireless.

      1. quxinot

        Re: Mis-named Wireless

        >I'd call anything wireless which connects to reference device without needing plugged in. And in this case, placing a phone/tablet/watch/mouse etc on a pad (and not plugging it in) is clearly wireless.<

        Years ago when phones first did this trick, the word was "cordless". Wonder what happened to that word.

    3. phil 27

      Re: Mis-named Wireless

      Mage, you should look at the Qi 1.2 standard. 15w fast charging, distance much larger, just sad that most devices we can buy right now are Qi 1.0 still.

      https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2014/07/updated-qi-1-2-standard-makes-wireless-charging-more-wireless/

  4. david willis

    But what have apple ever done for us ?

    (following the hidden monty python message)

    "the iPad",

    Well aside from the iPad? What have Apple ever done for us?

    "The MacBook Pro", "The iMac", "The iWatch..

    Admitted.. admitted.. but aside from...

    1. A Non e-mouse Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: But what have apple ever done for us ?

      I never expected a Spanish Inquisition over all this wireless charging malarkey....

      1. Cynical Observer

        Re: But what have apple ever done for us ?

        Our two weapons are embrace and extend.

        .... and eliminate.

        Our three weapons are embr...

        1. DougS Silver badge

          Re: But what have apple ever done for us ?

          When has Apple ever "embraced and extended" standards? They either follow standards, or go their own way with an Apple only "standard". They don't play 90s Microsoft with them.

          1. JOKM

            Re: But what have apple ever done for us ?

            Not true I still haven't forgotten or forgiven about the G5 with the reversed PCI slot and mark up that went with the graphics cards

            Also let us not forget OSX BaStarDised

            1. DougS Silver badge

              Re: But what have apple ever done for us ?

              Dunno about the "reversed PCI slot", guess I never heard of that one, but are you trying to claim BSD is a 'standard'? You must be joking. Apple just used it as a layer in their software, just like many companies use Linux in theirs. If you want to look for a modern example of embrace and extend, look at Google's use of Java in Android.

    2. jelabarre59 Silver badge

      Re: But what have apple ever done for us ?

      (following the hidden monty python message)

      "the iPad",

      Well aside from the iPad? What have Apple ever done for us?

      "The MacBook Pro", "The iMac", "The iWatch..

      Admitted.. admitted.. but aside from...

      I think the question was what has Apple done FOR us rather than TO us...

  5. Gomez Adams

    Wireless QI portable power packs exist

    I know, I have one and use it. I can be recharging my phone while it sits in my pocket.

    For once I am happy with an Apple decision as it means that it will grow the market for such devices - I would really like one with the capacity of the leading non-wireless power packs rather than the two-shot full charge I get from my current one.

    1. Red Bren
      Windows

      Re: Wireless QI portable power packs exist

      "For once I am happy with an Apple decision as it means that it will grow the market for such devices"

      Until Apple decide to introduce a new, incompatible charging mechanism, leaving the owners and makers of such devices high and dry.

      Forced obsolescence is the new innovation

  6. Archivist

    You can always be sure

    That Apple will have chosen the solution/alliance that's best for their bottom line, not necessarily the best technological or practical solution for us.

    1. thesykes

      Re: You can always be sure

      Chosen? Didn't you know Apple invented wireless charging. Just now.

    2. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

      @Archivist Re: You can always be sure

      To be fair, that's what all companies do. Either they think they can make more money by selling a product that adheres to a standard, or that they can make more money by selling an incompatible product.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: @Archivist You can always be sure

        >Chosen? Didn't you know Apple invented wireless charging. Just now.

        There's a fair chance that Apple have chosen Qi because they have been unable to create anything better (i.e a system that charges gadgets where ever they are placed on a desk). Apple have filed patents that suggest that they have at least been looking at a wireless charging system

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Betamax...

    ...so you are alluding consumers are going to get the bulkier, cheaper & inferior version, but thanks to support from the porn industry it's going to win?

    Isn't that the opposite of what Apple likes to be?

    1. Stevie Silver badge

      Re: Betamax...

      Sorry, Lost, but if you are suggesting that the successful despite being vastly inferior technically VHS players were *more* bulky than their Betamax competitors I have to take serious issue with you.

      My family owned multiple recorders of both these formats and the Betamax ones were universally heftier in both cubic footage and slipped discage owing to the vast amounts of electronics and works placed inside to assure the greatness.

      A VHS recorder could be hefted in one hand even in he earlier days. A Betamax took two arms and if you were trying to get it onto a shelf in a tight space you really needed two people to ensure droppage was not going to be a factor.

      But Betamax tapes made of The Young Ones in the day still look like a TV picture whereas a VHS copy of House of Cards taken from PBS are unwatchable.

      Of course, both Betamax and VHS pale into insignificance next to a UMATIC transport unit. Those buggers are built to survive "the big one".

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Current" wireless charging is complete crap

    Apple getting on board with this should mean an upgrade to the way wireless charging is done now. Right now we are basically at the "wirelessly charged electric toothbrush" stage in this technology. Which is garbage! I would like the wireless done inside the chassis of the phone, not an add-on device with another cable attaching to the phone. And one that you don't need to have it sit on a special pedestal. Wake me when we're at the "wireless charging all within the device" AND "no need to sit on the pedestal, it works all over the room" stage and THEN we'll have something to talk about.

    We've had electric toothbrushes since the 1970s and wireless charging has not progressed one inch since then. Not. Once. Inch.

    Power Wankers!!1!

    1. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: "Current" wireless charging is complete crap

      Welcome to physics!

      Google "Inverse Square Law"

      Moving something 1cm away from the wireless charger knocks it badly in terms of power received as it's also supplying (uncaptured) power to a sphere of that radius.

      Move it distance n away and the useful power drops proportional to 1 / (n*n).

      As such, wireless charging is always going to be silly unless you come up with directed energy (e.g. beaming a laser that contains the power you want, to a sensor that can take that power and pull most of it back to electricity, or similar for radio, sonar, whatever). Your average iPhone charger puts out several Watts. A Class II laser is max 1mW and can blind you. And you need line-of-sight, and let's not forget about the danger and heat generated on ANYTHING in between too, plus the losses going through air and converting it back to something useful without melting your iPhone.

      Simple physics tells you that a 50p bit of copper will be doing a better job for a LONG time to come.

  9. Paul

    I have a Sony phone which has a magnetically attached charge coupler, much like the old Apple magcharge connector.

    It's quick to connect, doesn't lose power like Qi, and the phone is still waterproof. You can still use the microUSB socket to charge if you wish.

    Such a shame Sony dropped this feature, when instead it should have become a standard.

    1. Lee D Silver badge

      Saw a company online the other day selling magnetic micro-USB/Lightning connectors.

      Tiny little things that tou plug into any standard micro-USB / Lightning port, it exposes the pins for magnetic connections, and you buy one charging lead with a similar magnetic end.

      Hey presto, your solution, works on any phone / device without official support required, and works just like the old magnetically-attached cables.

    2. jelabarre59 Silver badge

      Such a shame Sony dropped this feature, when instead it should have become a standard.

      But dropping useful features/products is standard operating procedure at Sony.

  10. W4YBO

    I'm glad to see this. Apple diddling the Qi standard so that it only worked with its watch is kind of like Sony's creation of BetaMax tapes that were originally limited to sixty minutes. Couldn't fit a whole movie on a sixty minute tape. I suspect that thought was at the forefront of Norio Ohga's mind when he insisted that the Compact Disc's capacity be sufficient to playback Beethoven's Ninth in one fell swoop. (Your cool invention still has to be practical.) I hope that it will be at the forefront of Tim Cook's mind as Apple pushes Qi charging.

    My old Motorola Droid Maxx had built in Qi charging that worked very well. It was about half as fast as the wired charger, but very convenient. That kept that phone alive for a month after the µ-USB connector croaked.

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