A pair of newly granted Apple patents shows a MacBook wirelessly charging an iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. They describe two-way charging coils that can be used to charge the MacBook itself, but also used to allow the MacBook to charge other devices.
The patents also show an iPad charging an iPhone and Watch (right), and follow a separate patent application for a MagSafe battery case, which can charge both an iPhone and a set of AirPods …
Apple begins by noting that although it is working toward standard cables – with only the iPhone now left to transition to USB-C – each device may require its own power supply, which may be less than convenient, especially when travelling.
Some electronic devices include one or more rechargeable batteries that may require external power to recharge. Often, these devices may be charged using a common or standardized electrical connector or cable. For example, some devices may be charged using a universal serial bus (“USB”) connector or cable. However, despite having standardized connectors and cable, each device may require a separate or dedicated power supply to charge. In some cases, having separate power supplies for each device may be burdensome to use, store, and/or transport.
The patents have the usual convoluted patent language, intended to ensure the claims are as broad as possible.
A portable electronic device comprising: an enclosure forming a back surface of the portable electronic device; a display coupled to the enclosure and forming a front surface of the portable electronic device that is opposite from the back surface of the portable electronic device; a battery within the enclosure and providing electrical power to the display and a transmit inductive coil positioned within the enclosure and between the display and the back surface of the enclosure, the transmit inductive coil being configured to wirelessly transmit power through the back surface of the enclosure to an external device that is positioned proximate to the back surface of the enclosure […]
The electronic devices may include inductive coils which may be configured to be in electrical communication with inductive coils of external electronic devices. In some embodiments, the electrically communicative inductive coils may act as transmitting coils and/or receiving coils capable of transmitting power between the electronic devices. This transmission of power may increase a charge of a battery of the electronic device receiving the power, while simultaneously decreasing the charge of a battery transmitting the power. The inductive coils of the electronic devices capable of transmitting power to external electronic devices may allow for the charging of the battery of an electronic device using only another electronic device. As such, 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.
But the bottom line is that you either use a single power cord or a base wireless charger to charge the MacBook – with the MacBook wirelessly charging other Apple devices, by placing them on either the front or rear of the MacBook.
Of course, using a MacBook as a wired charger for multiple Apple devices is already possible: It’s the approach I started using when travelling once I got the 16-inch MacBook Pro, which offers 15 watts of power rather than the 4.5 or 5.5 watts of earlier models.
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