Despite understandable concerns raised after Apple’s iPhone launch event, it seems that reports of AirPower’s death may be greatly exaggerated. Although Apple has been extremely quiet about the AirPower charging pad — even by the company’s usual standards of secrecy — and has tacitly removed every mention of the product from its website, developer Gavin Stephens noted that the printed quick start guide for Apple’s new iPhone XS actually contains a blatant reference to AirPower that seems to have snuck through the cracks. A photo posted by Stephens on Twitter shows a “Charging” section on the same page that appears to describe the Emergency SOS feature, which reads, “Place iPhone with screen facing up on AirPower or a Qi-certified wireless charger.” The manual goes on to add that users can “also use the Lightning connector to charge iPhone” [emphasis added], suggesting that Apple at one point intended to ship the AirPower at the same time as the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max.
With Apple otherwise remaining tight-lipped about AirPower, however, it seems more likely at this point that the manuals were simply printed at a time when the company was more optimistic that the product would be ready for a September release — not surprising considering there were reliable predictions of this as recently as three months ago — but ultimately wasn’t able to overcome some of the technical problems. In fact, it seems more likely that Apple was pushing for a release of AirPower but was forced to abandon it at the last minute — a move that’s not at all unprecedented. Further, as Daring Fireball’s John Gruber notes, “it’s not at all uncommon for a project at Apple to have massive resets multiple times,” with the main difference with AirPower being that Apple had already chosen to announce the product.