Apple’s no stranger to stirring up controversy by removing ports before anyone else. Remember the uproar when the iPhone’s headphone jack went away? Changes are bound to happen, but some decisions are just tougher to accept — leaving impressions so deep, that they’re sometimes impossible to forget.
Rumors are circulating about a future iPhone that will ditch ports entirely. If Apple decides to make a portless iPhone, it will be another controversial choice with broader ramifications in the world of consumer tech. In fact, it may well spur a shake-up within the smart home. Since wireless charging would be the only option for charging, more accessories and other smart tech gadgets would need to be able to accommodate this feature.
These accessories might not be the dongles you’re used to. They could come to other items in your home — items you don’t normally associate with smart home technology.
If there’s one thing I detest more than anything, it’s adding yet another charger to my already overcrowded power outlet. It’s maddening. One quick peek at the side table in my living room is evidence enough.
In recent years, though, furniture makers have been cognizant about the need for power consumption. There are already plenty of side tables and other furniture you can buy that are outfitted with integrated power solutions. If a portless iPhone becomes real, it will drive furniture companies to add the necessary components for wireless charging in a seamless way.
There are complications to this, though. Furniture pieces that have an integrated power solution, whether they’re outlets or USB ports, tend to be pricey already — so adding wireless charging ups the cost even more. This nightstand with built-in wireless charging from Amazon is a perfect example, fetching for $100. Meanwhile, similar-looking nightstands without power sell for under $50.
The cost will be a concern. But if there’s one company that could benefit the most from a portless iPhones, it’s furniture retailer Ikea. The company has already invested a great deal into the smart home, and a more aggressive push into furniture with integrated wireless charging will quench the demand once it comes.
Chances are you already have a wireless charger of some kind — but, even then, it still contributes to the problem of cables everywhere. The charging pad itself is still one more thing you have to plug in.
Luckily, accessory manufacturers are proactive about integrating wireless charging with their products. There are multi-functioning charging accessories out there, like the Pitaka Air Quad, a charging base that offers wireless charging to many phones and accessories simultaneously. The convenience is great, but it’s an eyesore because of how much space it occupies on a tight nightstand or side table. There are many other gadgets that tack on wireless charging, such as desk lamps and alarm clocks, to help to alleviate the clutter.
Apple has an effect on accessory companies, as many of them cater to its products. The Apple Watch is a perfect example of this. If the portless iPhone becomes a reality, you can bet it’s going to be a priority for these companies. What I’m eager to see, though, is how other popular smart home gadgets will evolve to coincide with this eventual reality.
Smart speakers have proven valuable to the smart home, so why not have wireless charging somehow embedded in them? Speakers like the Amazon Echo Dot and Google Nest Mini are cheap enough, so adding wireless charging would solve two needs. Of course, this can extend into other categories as well, like smart displays.
Going one step further, a portless iPhone will fast-track the development of innovative wireless charging solutions. There will come a day when true wireless charging will be a reality — the kind that doesn’t require a pad. During CES 2020 earlier this year, we saw a variety of companies that are continuing to develop wireless power transmission technologies. They continue to struggle with issues like range and charging speed, but they’re improving.
We may be years away from a practical solution that can charge an iPhone within a reasonable time, but it will certainly be expedited because of Apple. And that’s worth noting because of Apple’s reputation of being disruptive in the landscape. If there’s one company that can cause a revolution, it’s Apple.
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