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Apple's AirPower wireless charging mat officially canceled

The company says the delayed product, which was about more than just charging, didn't meet its "high standards."

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Apple unveiled its AirPower charging mat in 2017 but announced the cancellation of the project Friday. 

Claudia Cruz/CNET

Apple has officially canceled its AirPower wireless charging mat project. The company on Friday said AirPower didn't meet its standards and noted it won't be releasing the much anticipated product. 

Since being announced in September 2017, AirPower was one of Apple's most-awaited products. The company promised that the oval wireless charging pad would arrive sometime in 2018 but later pushed out that deadline.

"After much effort, we've concluded AirPower will not achieve our high standards, and we have cancelled the project," said Dan Riccio, Apple's senior vice president of hardware engineering, in a statement. "We apologize to those customers who were looking forward to this launch. We continue to believe that the future is wireless and are committed to push the wireless experience forward."

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AirPower's cancellation is a black eye for Apple. It tends to announce products only when they're ready to ship, which made AirPower's delays notable. But it's not the only misstep Apple's made in recent years. Its Mac Pro computer, popular with creative professionals, has gone without a major update since 2013. The product's redesign has faced multiple delays but is expected sometime in 2019. Apple also has had various bugs in its iOS software, including an autocorrect bug with iOS 8.0.1 and a Group FaceTime problem with iOS 12.1.

Some Apple watchers said it was smart for the company not to release an inferior product. 

"If AirPower was overheating, which is what some had said, Apple could not bring it to market," Creative Strategies analyst Carolina Milanesi said. "Considering others have multi-device mats, Apple could have brought to market a different design, but I think that would have been even more disappointing."

AirPower had been expected to work with Apple's newer iPhones, the Apple Watch and the new wireless-charging AirPods case. And it would charge multiple devices at the same time, something available in other charging mats like Samsung's Wireless Charger Duo. Apple's new AirPods, unveiled last week, even come with information on the packaging about working with AirPower. 

But AirPower was about more than just wireless charging. It also aimed to help devices communicate with each other to manage power consumption. Apple's AirPower demo in September 2017 showed the iPhone screen tracking all of the devices on the charger, displaying their battery status. At the time, it wasn't clear if the product would work with non-Apple devices, or if the technology had been built into a current iPhone as well as the AirPower pad.

When Apple ditched its headphone jack in 2016's iPhone 7, it said it viewed the future as wireless. At the time, its head of marketing, Phil Schiller, said the move took "courage." Since then, Apple has rolled out iPhones that support wireless charging, and its newly updated AirPods have an optional wireless charging case. AirPower was meant to be the first Apple-designed wireless charging technology. But its wireless devices all work with third party chargers. 

TechCrunch earlier reported the news. 

Originally published March 29, 12:31 p.m. PT.
Update, 1:45 p.m. PT:
Adds details and analyst comment.