During today’s über-hyped iPhone announcement, Apple confirmed that the two newest models of its smartphone, the iPhone 8/8 Plus and the iPhone X (pronounced “ten”), will offer wireless charging. It’s the first time the tech giant’s phones have offered the capability, coming long after Android and even Windows Phone platforms have had the technology. So what does that have to do with cars? Well, many auto manufacturers have been integrating Qi wireless charging pads into their vehicle interiors, which mean iPhone users will finally be able to ditch the cord and charge through induction in their rides.
Despite the fact that Apple seemingly is no longer planning on building its own car (for now), instead focusing on developing technologies to supply automakers, the company is well aware of the data-filled future of the automobile, and it has gradually incorporated more vehicle-friendly features into its products. Apple CarPlay is a hit, and just a few months ago, Apple introduced a Do Not Disturb function to help prevent distracted driving. Of course, neither of those mean a thing if a phone is dead (one could also make the point that the least distracting kind of phone is a dead phone). That means easy charging is vital, and up until now, it required a cord and an open USB port. The new iPhone 8/8 Plus and iPhone X change that.
As of right now, Qi (pronounced “chee”) wireless charging technology has been integrated into a variety of cars from a variety of manufacturers; many of their names were displayed on a slide during the keynote address (above). Vehicles like the Chevrolet Camaro, the Hyundai Ioniq, and the Toyota Avalon offer Qi charging as part of optional trim packages, while premium vehicles like the Genesis G90, the BMW 7-series, and the Cadillac CT6 come with the induction mats as standard. (The incomplete list of car brands listed by Apple as Qi compatible: Audi, Bentley, BMW, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar, Land Rover, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, Mini, Toyota, and Volkswagen.)
The charging spots are often found in the cubby below the infotainment system or at the bottom of a storage bin in a center console. As with Android phones already taking advantage of Qi, putting the iPhones face up on the pads will initiate charging.
It’s worth noting that the wireless technology requires the phone to have a glass back, which means the new phones could be more susceptible to cracking or breaking if dropped, thrown, or knocked off a dash mount. That said, the iPhone user base is huge, and this is a big step forward in the convenience department for those consumers. The path toward zero wires is looking clearer, but a different and equally important issue remains: wider availability of wireless CarPlay.