Apple has joined the Wireless Power Consortium, an industry group that develops a widely-used wireless charging standard, an Apple spokesperson told Business Insider.
Apple joined WPC late last week, a WPC spokesperson said. WPC oversees a charging standard called Qi that insures interoperability among different products and brands that support wireless charging. Qi tech can be found on devices like Samsung’s Galaxy S7 smartphone, for example.
When using a Qi charger, the user merely drops his device on a compatible charging pad and it can draw power without plugging a cord in, although the pad needs to be connected to the wall.
Although Apple’s iPhone 7 doesn’t use wireless charging, unlike many of its smartphone competitors, the Apple Watch uses a proprietary wireless charging puck to charge up. However, that puck is not compatible with other Qi chargers.
The Apple Watch charger is using a modified version of Qi that is not interoperable with other wireless chargers. “The Apple Watch charger that comes with the device is Qi based, but the firm decided not to submit it for interoperability testing,” a former WPC VP said in 2015.
Despite Apple’s penchant for secrecy, it frequently joins important industry groups so it can participate in the development of new technologies and understand where they’re going. For example, it recently hosted a meeting of the Unicode Consortium at its headquarters.
An Apple spokesperson provided this statement:
“Apple is an active member of many standards development organizations, as both a leader and contributor. 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 with the WPC and its members.”
Here’s what WPC said about adding Apple to its members list:
“The companies with the largest market share in mobile phones are now members of the WPC and discussing the standardization of wireless charging. As we have seen in the past year, Qi has become the de facto standard for wireless power, and this year we expect to see even more momentum by the entire ecosystem.”
Apple is rumored to be adding wireless charging to the next model of the iPhone, which is expected to launch this fall, but Apple declined to comment on future products.