AirPower with new AirPods caught hiding on Apple's site

Apple may not be talking much about AirPower these days, but that hasn't stopped the long-delayed wireless charger from showing up in a new image with the new AirPods on the company's site. Mention of AirPower had been scrubbed from the Apple pages, after what have reportedly been engineering delays forced the company's engineers back to the drawing board.

Indeed, there had been speculation that Apple was planning to quietly retire AirPower altogether, without the charging mat ever actually launching. According to insider reports, the challenges of making a single Qi-compatible pad that could charge multiple devices simultaneously, irregardless of where they were positioned on its surface, proved to be tougher than initially expected.

While the engineers may be struggling, though, the designers seem to have pushed ahead. AirPower was not visibly mentioned on the new AirPods page when the updated wireless earbuds were announced yesterday, Apple only making note of generic wireless charging of the new case. However the code suggests something different.

A single mention of AirPower in the Apple Australia AirPods page, spotted by Michael Bateman, via MacRumors, seems to confirm that the original intention was to highlight the company's own charging pad. Indeed there's also a new AirPower image, unused on the visible page, but still saved among the page's assets.

The graphic shows the new AirPods wireless charging case in use on AirPower, alongside an iPhone XS Max. As you'd expect, iOS is reporting not only the wireless status of the iPhone, but of the earbuds and the AirPods case individually. Unlike in previous AirPower images, there's no Apple Watch on the pad.

The question is where that leaves Apple AirPower now. Speculation about the charger has bounced between suspicion that Apple will pull the plug altogether and work on a different design, to predictions that it's almost ready for primetime and will be released soon. The arrival of the wireless charging-compatible AirPods case could well suggest the latter is true, with rumors that Apple had the headphones ready last year but opted to hold their release back until AirPower too was finished.

Apple's gush of new products – each announced by a press release, rather than the usual keynote – this week had led to hopes that AirPower might arrive this week. The new iPads on Monday, followed by the updated iMacs on Tuesday, and then new AirPods on Wednesday led some to expect it could be a whole week of hardware announcements. That would pave the way for Apple to focus entirely on its services – like the new video streaming service – at its event next Monday.