Apple Researching Wireless Charging Ecosystem for MacBook, iPad, iPhone, and Apple Watch

Apple is researching the integration of multiple inductive charging coils into MacBooks and iPads to use them as wireless chargers for other devices, according to a patent filed by Apple.

device inductive charging patent macbook

The patent, spotted by Patently Apple, is titled "Inductive charging between electronic devices" and was awarded by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Apple has been researching device-to-device inductive charging technology since March 2016, when the now-granted patents around it were first filed. It is notable that Apple seems to be particularly interested in this area, filing for multiple patents relating to the technology, and it has now applied for 40 new claims.

This patent highlights how all mobile Apple devices, including Apple Watches, iPhones, iPads, and MacBooks, could use an ecosystem of wireless charging together. Images included in the patent present a significant number of different coil placements for a range of portable Apple devices to facilitate this system.

Apple presents a wide variety of possible implementations for device-to-device wireless charging. For example, the lid of a MacBook could contain a series of upward-facing inductive coils, allowing devices to charge by being rested on top of it. Coils could also be placed on the palm rests and trackpad of a MacBook.

Crucially, the wireless charging system is two-way, with devices able to both receive and transmit power via inductive coils, allowing users to choose which device is charged. It may also be determined automatically by software based on which device has a greater amount of charge.

Apple's proposed strategy seems to be to incorporate carefully-positioned inductive charging coils on every mobile Apple device. For example, the patent explains how coils could be placed along both the front and back of an iPad, allowing it to be wirelessly charged from one side while transmitting charge to another device on the other side. The proposed system is heavily interchangeable as a result, with a huge number of device combinations and placements possible.

There is even the suggestion that a collection of Apple devices could be charged together from one power source. An image depicts an Apple Watch charging from an iPhone, the ‌iPhone‌ from an ‌iPad‌, the ‌iPad‌ from a MacBook, and the MacBook from a power cable. Text accompanying the image states "only a single power cord or no power cords may be needed to charge one or more of a group of devices that include electrically communicative inductive coils."

device inductive charging patent all devices

Apple has also considered an assortment of software integrations for the device-to-device wireless charging system. When a smaller device is placed on the display of a larger device, such as an Apple Watch on the front of an ‌iPad‌, the ‌iPad‌'s display could indicate its "alignment condition" and charge percentage.

Another more inventive software integration proposes that, if the screen of an ‌iPad‌ is obstructed by charging an ‌iPhone‌ on it, the ‌iPad‌'s UI could adjust to only display content on the unobstructed part of the screen. There are also provisions for scenarios in which the ‌iPhone‌ could be used to display the content that has been obstructed on the ‌iPad‌'s screen, such as a row of home screen apps.

device inductive charging patent iphone on ipad apps

The patent also repeatedly refers to a system of magnets that could be used to align devices to each other for charging, which seems to be strikingly similar to Apple's MagSafe system which premiered with the iPhone 12 lineup.

In some embodiments, the electronic device includes an alignment magnet that is positioned adjacent the inductive coil. The alignment magnet may be configured to assist in positioning the external device relative to the electronic device...

The patent implies that this magnetic alignment system could be used on any of its portable devices to support a better experience when charging wirelessly, and it would certainly make sense to expand ‌MagSafe‌ or a MagSafe-like system to more devices to support this ecosystem of device-to-device inductive charging. ‌MagSafe‌ is only available on the ‌iPhone 12‌ and iPhone 12 Pro at present.

Should Apple integrate the proposed technology, it would create a unified system of wireless charging across all portable Apple devices. The device-to-device inductive charging system seems feasible and would help Apple to synthesize its otherwise fragmented range of charging methods, but it is not clear how Apple would address the inevitable thermal, penetration, or efficiency issues it would cause.

The arrival of ‌MagSafe‌ charging on the ‌iPhone 12‌ demonstrates Apple's interest in wireless charging solutions, and the depth of the company's research shows how thoroughly such systems are being considered. In spite of this, patents can only serve as proof of what Apple is researching. They do not necessarily indicate what the company may implement and the contents of many patents never reach final consumer products.

Top Rated Comments

Mdracer Avatar
15 weeks ago
Great, now I wont be able to use my laptop whilst I charge my watch and phone because they are placed where my palms need to be. :)
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
PieTunes Avatar
15 weeks ago

That won't be a laptop... that will be a lap incinerator.
First thing that popped into my mind.

I commend Apple for researching something innovative like this, but the veritable matryoshka dolls of devices all charging through and within each other gives me pause right now.

Attachment Image
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
AngerDanger Avatar
15 weeks ago
People in colder climates would love these!
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
contacos Avatar
15 weeks ago
Imagine how slow that must be and so you suck one device dry to charge another?
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Christoffee Avatar
15 weeks ago


Is that a 30-pin connector!!
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
contacos Avatar
15 weeks ago

does that parent device not have a cable that can charge it....?????????????????????????????????????????????????????
If Apple wasn't so stupid and just included USB-C in their missing device (iPhone) they could solve this issue easily by just charging whatever device with the same cable. Imagine how great and fast that would be, even with less heat killing your battery!
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

april 2021 event coverage feature

Apple Event Live Coverage: New iPads, AirTags, and More Expected [Event Over]

Tuesday April 20, 2021 9:07 am PDT by
Apple's virtual "Spring Loaded" event kicks off today at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time, with Apple expected to debut updated iPad models and perhaps some other hardware such as AirTags or iMac models based on Apple silicon. Apple is providing a live video stream on its website, on YouTube, and in the company's TV app across its platforms. We will also be updating this article with live blog...
m1 imac colors

Apple Announces Redesigned iMac With M1 Chip and Seven Color Options

Tuesday April 20, 2021 10:22 am PDT by
Apple has announced a new, redesigned 24-inch iMac, featuring an M1 chip, a 4.5K display, and a range of color options, as well as an improved cooling system, front-facing camera, speaker system, microphones, power connector, and peripherals. The new iMac features a completely new compact design, and comes in a range of seven striking colors, including green, yellow, orange, pink, purple,...
Ports 2021 MacBook Pro Mockup Feature 1 copy

Stolen MacBook Pro Schematics Confirm Apple's Plans to Add More Ports and Remove Touch Bar

Wednesday April 21, 2021 10:31 am PDT by
Schematics stolen from Apple supplier Quanta Computer outline Apple's plans for the next-generation MacBook Pro models that are expected in 2021, and clearly confirm plans for additional ports and a return to MagSafe. MacRumors saw the schematics after they were leaked online, and some of them feature the logic board of the next-generation MacBook Pro. On the right side of the machine,...
iphone 12 preorder purple

Apple Launching iPhone 12 and 12 Mini in New Purple Color on April 30

Tuesday April 20, 2021 10:08 am PDT by
Apple today announced that the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 mini will be available in a new purple color starting April 30, with pre-orders starting this Friday. Apple is also releasing a new MagSafe Leather Case and Leather Sleeve in Deep Violet, a Silicone Case in Capri Blue, Pistachio, Cantaloupe, or Amethyst, and a Leather Wallet in Arizona, all available to order beginning today. iPhone...
13 inch macbook pro m1

14-Inch and 16-Inch MacBook Pro Models With XDR Displays Expected to Launch Later This Year

Wednesday April 21, 2021 7:08 am PDT by
Apple yesterday unveiled a new 12.9-inch iPad Pro with a Liquid Retina XDR display that uses mini-LED backlighting to achieve up to 1,000 nits of full-screen brightness and up to 1,600 nits of peak brightness. With over 10,000 mini‑LEDs grouped into more than 2,500 local dimming zones, the display also has an impressive 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio. Apple has so far branded its mini-LED...
14

Apple Says iOS 14.5 Will Be Released 'Next Week'

Tuesday April 20, 2021 11:08 am PDT by
Apple today in a press release about its new AirTag item tracker announced that iOS 14.5 and iPadOS 14.5 will be available starting "next week." iOS 14.5 and iPadOS 14.5 are packed with new features, including the ability for iPhone users who are wearing an Apple Watch to unlock the iPhone with Face ID while wearing a mask. iOS 14.5 and iPadOS 14.5 will also be the minimum software versions...
ipad pro with m1 chip

Apple Introduces Next-Generation iPad Pro With M1 Chip, Thunderbolt, 5G, XDR Display, and More

Tuesday April 20, 2021 10:40 am PDT by
Apple today announced the next-generation iPad Pro with the same M1 chip found in the latest Macs, Thunderbolt and USB4 support, 5G connectivity on cellular models with mmWave support in the United States, and more. With an 8-core CPU and 8-core GPU, Apple says the M1 chip in the new iPad Pro provides up to 50% faster performance and up to 40% faster graphics compared to the A12Z Bionic chip ...
f1618938547

Apple Announces AirTag Tracking Devices Starting At $29 Each

Tuesday April 20, 2021 10:10 am PDT by
Apple today announced AirTag, a Tile-like Bluetooth tracking device that's designed to be attached to items like keys and wallets for tracking purposes, letting you find them right in the Find My app. AirTags are accessories for attaching to backpacks, luggage, and other items. Any U1 device like the iPhone 12 can be used for precision finding to guide you right to the item you're looking...
airtag engraving 69

Apple Tries to Limit Offensive AirTag Engravings... With Mixed Results

Wednesday April 21, 2021 3:16 am PDT by
Apple's AirTag item trackers can be custom-engraved using text, numbers, and even emoji, but users looking to express some college humor will likely need to look elsewhere, because Apple's online AirTag personalization tool is easily offended. An AirTag is just big enough to fit up to four characters or up to three emoji. That might seem just enough to get dubiously creative with your...
maxresdefault

Apple Event 2021: Everything Apple Announced at Its 'Spring Loaded' Event in Just 6 Minutes

Tuesday April 20, 2021 4:23 pm PDT by
Apple today held its first event of 2021, and it was one of the most exciting events that we've seen in some time. Apple announced a whole slew of new products, including an M1 iMac, an M1 iPad Pro, a refreshed 4K Apple TV, and the long-awaited AirTags. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. It took Apple an hour to introduce all of the new devices during its virtual...