Apple has been granted two US patents that that depict a MacBook with built-in reverse-charging coils that can wirelessly charge an iPhone, iPad or Apple Watch.
Apple’s drawings show a MacBook with charging coils placed underneath the trackpad, as well as on each side of it, plus coils beneath the lid for charging other devices wirelessly when the MacBook is closed. There’d also be magnets in each device for correctly aligning them to the conductive coil of the other.
Apple’s iPhone 12 models already contain more magnets than past iPhone models to support its MagSafe wireless charging feature.
The reverse wireless charging feature means the devices can be used to receive power and transmit power, much like Google’s Pixel 5. Having a charging plate to the side of the trackpad could make it more useful than Samsung’s new Galaxy Book laptops, which have wireless chargers built into the trackpad.
Apple explains that built-in reverse wireless charging can solve the problem of carrying around too many power adaptors when carrying multiple devices. It could be useful if and when people start traveling again after the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic is over.
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“Some electronic devices include one or more rechargeable batteries that may require external power to recharge,” Apple notes.
“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.”
But as The Verge notes, Apple’s MacBooks have aluminum shells, which don’t allow power to be transmitted wirelessly. Only glass or plastic works.
Google got around this problem in the Pixel 5 by using a “bio-resin” or plastic layer on top of the aluminum structure and cut a hole in it for the wireless coil.