Apple has quietly joined the Wireless Power Consortium, an organization dedicated to developing and governing the Qi wireless charging standard.
Cupertino’s recent addition to the member list of the Consortium was first discovered by IHS Technology; a cached view of the list shows that Apple wasn’t a member until this week. This fact was later confirmed by the Apple itself in a statement to Business Insider.
“Apple is an active member of many standards development organizations, as both a leader and a contributor,” Apple told the publication. “Apple is joining the Wireless Power Consortium to be able to participate and contribute ideas to the open, collaborative development of future wireless charging standards. We look forward to working together wit the WPC and its members.”
The Wireless Power Consortium is the organization behind Qi, a wireless charging standard that has since been adopted by the over 200 companies who are members — including Samsung, who featured wireless charging based on the Qi standard on its latest Galaxy flagships. Along with the two smartphone giants, the Consortium includes high-profile tech companies such as Qualcomm, Verizon, LG, HTC, Nokia, Sony and Huawei.
Qi is based on conventional inductive charging systems — a technology that Apple has already used on the Apple Watch. But while the Apple Watch charger uses a modified version of the Qi standard, Apple’s proprietary system isn’t compatible with other Qi chargers, according to The Register. The company’s recent induction into the WPC could change that in the future.
Apple’s newly discovered membership surface amid numerous rumors circulating that this year’s 10th anniversary iPhone will feature wireless charging — which would be a first for the flagship device. While this new piece of information doesn’t confirm that the iPhone 8 will come equipped with Qi-based wireless charging, it does speak to Apple’s broader ambitions for the technology.
It’s worth noting that the Qi inductive charging standard is quite different than the long-range wireless charging capabilities that other rumors have suggested Apple is exploring. Still, they’re not mutually exclusive — it’s entirely possible that Cupertino is still moving forward in its partnership with Energous, and simply believes Qi is a more practical solution for an iPhone that is due to be released by the end of the year.
Alternatively, if the company’s official statement is any indication, Apple could use its new sway as a member of the WPC to “contribute ideas” for future wireless charging standards — including a standard that uses long-distance charging methods like the one pioneered by Energous.