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Apple exploring universal power adapter to simultaneously charge MacBook, iPhone

post #1 of 39
Thread Starter 
Apple has shown interest in building a new universal power adapter compatible with different DC voltage levels, allowing portable devices like a MacBook Pro, iPhone and iPad to be charged at the same time with just one wall plug.

The proposed invention was revealed this week in a new Apple patent application filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and discovered by AppleInsider. The filing, entitled "Multi-Output Power Supply," notes that most commercially available adapters do not include multiple outputs for supplying different DC voltage levels.

"As such, users may often purchase a device-specific adapter for powering a device," it states. "However, this requires that the user carry a separate adapter for each device, which can be cumbersome when a user is traveling, as many users forget to bring all of the associated adapters required for various devices."

Those adapters can also be relatively bulky, Apple notes, making them less than ideal to carry while traveling. The company also said that it can be confusing to users when multiple adapters are at use in a stationary location, like a home or office.

Apple's solution is a new universal power supply that would connect to multiple electronic devices. This would make it unnecessary for users to carry multiple power adapters while traveling with multiple portable devices.

The filing describes a single power adapter that includes a DC-to-DC converter, allowing it to meet the different voltage requirements of unique devices. The adapter could also intelligently control power supplied through its outlets to ensure that the correct voltage is sent out to appropriate devices.

In addition to iPods, iPhones and iPads, the application specifically notes that such a system could also be compatible with Apple's patented MagSafe technology, used to supply power to the company's MacBook line of notebooks.



The charging cable could include a power "brick" similar to the ones currently used with a MacBook Pro or MacBook Air. That brick would include the necessary voltage converter, and could allow another portable device like an iPhone to be plugged in to charge.

The proposed invention was first filed by Apple in May of 2010, and was made public this week. It is credited to Aleksandar Pance, Nicholas Alan Rundle, and John Douglas Field.

The latest application is not the first time Apple has shown interest in redesigning its power adapters to allow charging of multiple devices. In September, another filing showed the company is interested in building a universal charger that would allow portable devices to not only recharge their batteries, but also sync data while plugged in to the same adapter.
post #2 of 39
I'm not sure what the patent claims as new but this idea has been done before. About ten years or so ago, I think. The company that made then was Madsonline, and it was a nice charger. They can't do one now, unfortunately, because of Apple's patents on the MagSafe connector.
post #3 of 39
Twelvesouth have it all taken care of:

http://www.twelvesouth.com/products/plugbug/
post #4 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by irnchriz View Post

Twelvesouth have it all taken care of:

http://www.twelvesouth.com/products/plugbug/

Can't get over how sexy the Air is...
post #5 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by irnchriz View Post

Twelvesouth have it all taken care of:

http://www.twelvesouth.com/products/plugbug/

I was just about to post the same link, but here's an image for the tl,dr crowd:




I don't understand why this is such a big challenge. Perhaps in Apple's case the goal is keeping it compact.
post #6 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dlux View Post



I don't understand why this is such a big challenge. Perhaps in Apple's case the goal is keeping it compact.

might have something to do with power draw...but at the same time I have no actual clue wtf I'm talking about in this regard. lol
post #7 of 39
Macbook plugged into power adapter using one wall socket.

iPhone plugged into MacBook USB port.

Hey, I've been using one socket for over three years.
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Better than my Bose, better than my Skullcandy's, listening to Mozart through my LeBron James limited edition PowerBeats by Dre is almost as good as my Sennheisers.
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post #8 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by hill60 View Post

Macbook plugged into power adapter using one wall socket.

iPhone plugged into MacBook USB port.

Hey, I've been using one socket for over three years.

That Macbook and it's charger brick make for a pretty bulky iPhone charger, if that's the only part you need!

(Also, do the current MacBook USB ports still deliver juice if the machine is asleep? My older Powerbook doesn't.)
post #9 of 39
They could possibly make the iPhone charge faster if it wasn't limited by USB voltages and current...
post #10 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dlux View Post

That Macbook and it's charger brick make for a pretty bulky iPhone charger, if that's the only part you need!

(Also, do the current MacBook USB ports still deliver juice if the machine is asleep? My older Powerbook doesn't.)

I think so, but I haven't tried in a while.

The problem I see is the dock cords are so short that connecting directly to the power brick means putting the device on the floor near the brick (bad idea) or the brick and device on a table, which can shorten the effective cord length from the brick to the wall.
post #11 of 39
Just replace the dock connector with a Thunderbolt MagSafe port.

Apple has already looked into a new enhanced MagSafe connecter that has an optical port in the middle used for Thunderbolt. This would allow for a single cable to connect a MacBook to a Cinema Display for both power and data.

Similarly, an iPhone, iPod and iPad would benefit. Have the power adapter recognize which device is connected and then adjust the DC voltage accordingly.

An iPhone dock with MagSafe would be great. No more fiddling to adjust it just right into the dock.
post #12 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

...
The proposed invention was revealed this week in a new Apple patent application filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and discovered by AppleInsider. The filing, entitled "Multi-Output Power Supply," notes that most commercially available adapters do not include multiple outputs for supplying different DC voltage levels...

How is this an invention if it has been around for a while?

http://www.amazon.com/Dell-Laptop-Ch.../dp/B004U5Y2NM
post #13 of 39
I'd like to see the power bricks change design. Noe that notebooks are so thin I'd love to see the power bricks become thinner, too, even if that means they have a larger footprint. Just easier to slide into computer bags.


Quote:
Originally Posted by iPedro View Post

Apple has already looked into a new enhanced MagSafe connecter that has an optical port in the middle used for Thunderbolt. This would allow for a single cable to connect a MacBook to a Cinema Display for both power and data.

They even have a patent for it.

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post #14 of 39
Holy Smokes!!!
post #15 of 39
I'm fine with two separate cables. I don't want an universal one.
post #16 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by ghostface147 View Post

I'm fine with two separate cables. I don't want an universal one.

As much as Apple wants to make the Mac into just another device I don't see a universal cable between the iPod Nano and MBP happening. Even with Thunderbolt's increased power throughput, double that if USB3.0, it's still only 10W.
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post #17 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by irnchriz View Post

Twelvesouth have it all taken care of:

http://www.twelvesouth.com/products/plugbug/


that doesn't work with the long power cord.
post #18 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

They even have a patent for it.

And that's the last thing we need to see; fragmentation of Thunderbolt.

Sony already tried and they've kicked themselves in the genitals for it.

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Originally Posted by helia

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post #19 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post

The problem I see is the dock cords are so short that connecting directly to the power brick means putting the device on the floor near the brick (bad idea) or the brick and device on a table, which can shorten the effective cord length from the brick to the wall.

http://www.buy.com/prod/the-white-10...225631487.html

(There are others available as well.)
post #20 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dlux View Post

http://www.buy.com/prod/the-white-10...225631487.html

(There are others available as well.)

Thank you! They're a lot harder to find than they should be.

I have Griffin's 10ft dock cable, but the shell on the dock end is so big that it doesn't fit through the cases I've tried because it's not standard. This one looks it's more normal sized.
post #21 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

And that's the last thing we need to see; fragmentation of Thunderbolt.

Sony already tried and they've kicked themselves in the genitals for it.

It doesn't seem like this implementation would fragment Thunderbolt. It would just be built into the pre-existing MagSafe receptacle.

If you use it on an older computer, it would still transfer just power. I can see why the marketers called it Thunderbolt though!
post #22 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by irnchriz View Post

Twelvesouth have it all taken care of:

http://www.twelvesouth.com/products/plugbug/

Third party hardware vendors take it in the shorts again.

P.S. The reason it is so cool is that former Apple evangelist Guy Kawasaki is involved.
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post #23 of 39
This is not anything special . Laptops from other vendors and 3rd parties have this already. I have a kensington brand laopt adapter that goes between different voltages, different tips, car adapter, and a usb port on the side.

All this does is patent one with a magsafe connector at the end.
post #24 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post

I think so, but I haven't tried in a while.

The problem I see is the dock cords are so short that connecting directly to the power brick means putting the device on the floor near the brick (bad idea) or the brick and device on a table, which can shorten the effective cord length from the brick to the wall.

I tried to charge my phone from my Macbook, but with the Macbook closed a couple of months ago (this is a 2011 Macbook Pro) and it didn't work. I had to leave the Macbook "on" to ensure the phone charged.

To be honest, I assumed there was probably a setting somewhere to change the behavior, but I never looked further into it.

I actually quite like the idea of the power brick for Macbooks having a USB out, since I only have one iPad charger and frequently forget to take that on business trips with me, but I have multiple Macbook chargers.
post #25 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by AbsoluteDesignz View Post

might have something to do with power draw...but at the same time I have no actual clue wtf I'm talking about in this regard. lol

That's never stopped you before, so don't let it make you shy now.
post #26 of 39
I just want two things in the iPhone 5's physical design:

1. Rounded glass edges. Just a radiuses edge instead of the flat edge of the 4/4S.

2. Magsafe connector.

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post #27 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by irnchriz View Post

Twelvesouth have it all taken care of:
http://www.twelvesouth.com/products/plugbug/

BAM! Done and done.

Yeah I usually carry my MBP with power cord and when I want to charge my iphone I just connect via USB to the MBP.
post #28 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by SockRolid View Post

I just want two things in the iPhone 5's physical design:

1. Rounded glass edges. Just a radiuses edge instead of the flat edge of the 4/4S.

2. Magsafe connector.

No MagSafe connector for me! Having that connector the way it is has has saved me more than once from the iPhone hitting the floor!
post #29 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post

Thank you!

I have Griffin's 10ft dock cable, but the shell on the dock end is so big that it doesn't fit through the cases I've tried because it's not standard. This one looks it's more normal sized.

I bought the same one. It's s nice hefty cable, but that connector is just too bulky for use with my Bumper.
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post #30 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by akf2000 View Post

that doesn't work with the long power cord.

Yes the long cord is essential when traveling especially to Central America where there are very few outlets in a room such as in older buildings and also in airports. Sometimes older outlets are a little worn out too and the weight of the power brick tends to cause it to fall out. So the plug bug is cool and all but not going to work for me.

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post #31 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigmike View Post

BAM! Done and done.

Yeah I usually carry my MBP with power cord and when I want to charge my iphone I just connect via USB to the MBP.

iPad needs AC power though

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post #32 of 39
Patenting something that exists?

Anyway, this device sure looks like a game changer!
post #33 of 39
Doesn't seem like this new charger would be too difficult for Apple to make, and I'm surprised Apple hadn't already made it. The current Airport Express is the same brick design with built-in LAN, USB, and an audio output jacks.


What I'm really looking for is a slimmer adapter to fit into a sleeve along with my Macbook Air. Maybe something like this HP travel adapter.
post #34 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

I bought the same one. It's s nice hefty cable, but that connector is just too bulky for use with my Bumper.

Just to clarify, you bought the one Dlux linked, or did you buy the Griffin cord? I hope it's not like the Griffin for the problem of the shell interference.
post #35 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post

Just to clarify, you bought the one Dlux linked, or did you buy the Griffin cord? I hope it's not like the Griffin for the problem of the shell interference.

I bought the Griffin cable.
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post #36 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by PaulMJohnson View Post

I tried to charge my phone from my Macbook, but with the Macbook closed a couple of months ago (this is a 2011 Macbook Pro) and it didn't work. I had to leave the Macbook "on" to ensure the phone charged.

Works fine on my MacBook Pro (Early 2011 edition).
But I just ordered one of these "twelvesouth.com" plugbugs as well. Frees up one outlet in my setup at home (now occupied by the Mac and iPad power supplies.)
post #37 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by capoeira4u View Post

Doesn't seem like this new charger would be too difficult for Apple to make, and I'm surprised Apple hadn't already made it. The current Airport Express is the same brick design with built-in LAN, USB, and an audio output jacks.


What I'm really looking for is a slimmer adapter to fit into a sleeve along with my Macbook Air. Maybe something like this HP travel adapter.


Can't resist -"HP can sure build great power adapters." Let's see whether the "A"-guys can adopt the idea of "thin is great" to power adapters as well.
post #38 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by anonymouse View Post

That's never stopped you before, so don't let it make you shy now.

got any quotes there guy? or are you just lying again?
post #39 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by AbsoluteDesignz View Post

got any quotes there guy? or are you just lying again?

You do realize that your reply doesn't even make as little sense as your usual posts?

Quotes? Lying? I was just agreeing with you that you didn't know what your were talking about.
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