While the application covers general polishing techniques for cylindrical and contoured surfaces, Patently Apple notes that the patent also details ways to create a space for an inductive charging coil, confirming that the tools are designed specifically for the creation of a wireless charging device.
In describing how the tools would work, the application includes multiple illustrations of a charging station used to provide electrical current to another device via inductive power transmission. An inductive transmitter coil wraps around a metal core and is designed to pair with a receiver coil and charge the battery in the electronic device.
Apple notes that the charging station could include an electromagnetically transparent support surface for the device to be charged, allowing it to sit on the station unencumbered and receive power wirelessly via the induction coupling technology. The charging station is also described as including a port for a USB-type connector cable to connect with an external power source, such as a laptop.
The patent application was filed in late 2015, and provides ample evidence that Apple's engineering teams continue to investigate wireless charging solutions. Indeed, Apple has had an interest in the technology ever since the first iPhone, gaining patents for wireless charging stations and wireless charging via near field magnetic resonance, which wirelessly charges a device within a certain region.
Earlier this year, one rumor source suggested the iPhone 7 would feature wireless charging as well as better waterproofing and no headphone jack. However, that report warned that the charging feature could be pulled from the iPhone 7 for a future iteration of the device, since Apple was still working on the technology.
Indeed, only two of the aforementioned features were ultimately realized this week, indicating Apple may have purposely held back the charging technology in order for it to be included in its tenth anniversary "iPhone 8", said to be debuting next year.
The suggestion will undoubtedly grate for some readers, given that this would have been the perfect solution for charging an iPhone and listening to music through wired headphones at the same time, rather than using the more cumbersome charging dock method suggested by Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller.
Back in September 2012, however, Schiller said that Apple wasn't sure of how convenient the then-current state of wireless charging technology was, since most wireless charging systems had to be plugged into a wall. This may explain why Apple is still exploring the technology. Indeed, the company has shown an interest in WiTricity's wireless charging tech, which uses a "hidden charging" method that allows magnetic fields to wrap around barriers, which would allow users to place their charging pads wherever they want.