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Apple could bring long-distance wireless charging to iPhone, iPad as soon as 2017

Apple is reportedly working on an advanced wireless iPhone and iPad charging technology capable of bridging longer distances than currently available hardware, with a potential launch targeted as early as next year.

Sources say Apple is working with Asian suppliers to make the long-distance wireless charging tech a reality sometime in 2017, though challenging engineering hurdles stand in the way of progress, reports Bloomberg. Apple is particularly concerned with energy loss over distance, a physical limitation inherent in any wireless charging system.

While other electronics manufacturers have marketed wireless charging solutions for sometime, rival Samsung being a good example, Apple only recently dipped its toe into inductive technology with Apple Watch. The Magnetic Charging Cable included with every Watch contains magnets that interface with complementary magnets in Apple Watch to correctly align the devices' inductive power elements, thus maximizing energy transfer efficiency. Still, the system is low-power, meaning Watch takes longer to charge than other Apple products.

The technology behind Apple's supposed wireless charging solution is unknown, though a number of patent filings point to ongoing research in a variety of disciplines. Perhaps most relevant to today's report is IP dating back to 2012, which offers a "realistic and practical approach" to creating a wireless power field effective at distances up to one meter.

Rumors of an Apple-branded wireless charging solution have circulated for years, but hard evidence of a near-term release of such technology has yet to materialize. With the competition already fielding their own products, however, it is possible that Cupertino is ramping up research on an architecture capable of meeting high-energy deployments like iPhone and iPad.