A pair of patents recently granted to Apple show a MacBook with wireless charging capabilities. Illustrations in both patents show a system that would allow a MacBook to charge wirelessly and also provide wireless charging for other Apple devices, like the iPhone or Apple Watch.
Spotted by Patently Apple, the patents detail how the system would work, although in slightly different ways. The main difference appears to be how the MacBook receives power. One version simply involves charging the MacBook with a typical power cable and then using the laptop to charge other Apple devices wirelessly. The other version involves placing the MacBook on a wireless charging base to charge.
In either case, the patent aims to make it easier for users to charge their Apple devices with a MacBook by eliminating the need for multiple cables. The patents position the tech as a solution to the issue of having too many power bricks. Considering Apple stopped including power bricks with its iPhones last year, this could be a great alternative for charging your iPhone on the go — assuming you have a MacBook, of course.
Interestingly, the patents also suggest the feature could work with the MacBook open or closed. Illustrations included with the patents show wireless charging spots on the MacBook’s palm rest and in the trackpad, as well as in the lid for use when the laptop is closed.
The idea reminds me of Apple’s failed AirPower, which also promised to offer multi-device wireless charging. The main difference here, however, is that AirPower aimed to let users place any device anywhere on the pad to charge it, whereas the MacBook patents seem to have more specific charging locations.
Of course, as with any patent, just because it exists doesn’t mean we’ll ever see it ship. Many tech companies — and especially Apple — get patents for all kinds of ideas as a precaution. While it would be neat to see a future MacBook offer wireless charging capabilities for the iPhone or Apple Watch, I’m not sure it’ll ever happen.
For one, wireless charging doesn’t work through aluminum (with some exceptions) so unless Apple plans to redesign MacBooks with a new material, I doubt we’ll see one with wireless charging capabilities.