Apple may build its own external battery pack for recharging on the go

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
Apple has shown interest in integrating a rechargeable external battery pack into its standard charging cable, providing extra power for devices like a MacBook or iPhone when a power outlet isn't available.



The potential future accessory was revealed this week in a new patent application published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and uncovered by AppleInsider. The filing for "Power Adapter with Internal Battery" describes a wall charger with an integrated battery pack, allowing users to charge a device at home and give that device extra juice when on the go.



Apple's application acknowledges that rechargeable external battery accessories do already exist. However, it notes that such accessories are not as advantageous as one that might be integrated with a standard charging cable.



"Such external batteries are generally cumbersome to use, at least because they must be unpacked for use and then repacked for storage," Apple's filing states of current options available on the market. "In addition, many users forget to bring the external battery in addition to the adapter while in transit.



"What is needed is a way to combine a power adapter and a battery so that a user does not have to carry an additional battery while traveling with a portable electronic device."



Apple's solution would include a "smart" charger with an integrated processor. This would allow the charger to intelligently determine how to distribute charge between the integrated adapter battery, and the battery on a device like a MacBook.



The hardware would also include the ability to share the status of the battery with the device it is charging. This way, users would be able to check the status of the external adapter battery and how much power it has left.



Such a device could be augmented by a "trickle source" for power, such as solar. And it could also include a USB port for charging a device like an iPhone or iPod. The accessory could also include a wireless adapter, allowing a MacBook or other device to access the power adapter even when it is not physically connected.







Apple's application also notes that its external battery solution could employ current power adapter features, such as its patented MagSafe connector.



The use of MagSafe connectors became an issue for a third-party external battery manufacturer last year, when Apple sued the maker of "HyperMac" accessories. Sanho Corporation was accused by Apple of infringing on MagSafe-related patents for products like its MBP-PRO, MBP-AIR and MBP-CAR chargers with magnetic power connectors.



Instead of mimicking Apple's patented MagSafe connectors, Sanho's products actually relied on recycled official MagSafe hardware made by Apple. The lawsuit eventually forced HyperMac to cease the sale of chargers with MagSafe hardware. Sanho also negotiated with Apple and rebranded its products HyperJuice.



But the need for such third-party external battery makers could be significantly lessened if Apple were to follow through on its pursuit of power adapters with integrated rechargeable batteries. Apple first filed the patent application made public this week in September of 2009, and the proposed invention is credited to Duncan Kerr, David Robbins Falkenburg and Michael Nugent.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 41
    s4mb4s4mb4 Posts: 267member
    of course they are....



    when they release the 4G iPhone, the battery life is gonna suck...
  • Reply 2 of 41
    tipootipoo Posts: 1,055member
    Apple patents literally thousands of things without making them, I'm not putting much hope into this until at least some leaked prototypes show up.
  • Reply 3 of 41
    xsuxsu Posts: 401member
    Having a solar cell under the LCD of iDevice would be a much nicer solution. Especially for iPad, a large solar cell under that large screen can probably extend the battery life indefinitely for a light user.
  • Reply 4 of 41
    wigginwiggin Posts: 2,265member
    It's a good idea, but I did have to laugh a little about one of the purposes cited, "Such external batteries are generally cumbersome to use, at least because they must be unpacked for use and then repacked for storage," Harder than getting out your power adaptor? Harder than lugging around the extra weight of the batter everytime you carry your power adaptor even when you don't need the battery?



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by tipoo View Post


    Apple patents literally thousands of things without making them, I'm not putting much hope into this until at least some leaked prototypes show up.



    Which also means someone else who would be willing to make such a device can't. Even if it's for a non-Apple device. This makes Apple different than the patent holding companies we complain how, exactly?



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by xsu View Post


    Having a solar cell under the LCD of iDevice would be a much nicer solution. Especially for iPad, a large solar cell under that large screen can probably extend the battery life indefinitely for a light user.



    Oh sure, just use the LCDs backlight to illuminate the solar cell to recharge the batter to run the backlight. An infinite loop of energy for the device!



    But in all seriousness...just how do you expect that to work? Put the solar cells in front of the backlight and you have no backlight. But it behind the backlight and the light getting to the solar cells would be blocked entirely, either by the LED backlight of the LCD crystals themselves (when displaying a dark image). Or at a minimum their illuminated surface area would be so small that it would generate negligable current. And let's not forget how little % of the time the device would get enough light to be useful even if you had a fully exposed solar cell.



    Depending on how densely packed the LED backlight elements are, could you make a hybrid solar cell/LED panel? Maybe. But it would likely be very inefficient, not as good of a backlight, and any LCD pixel that is other than "white" would block the light anyway.



    Edit: The idea would perhaps work for something like a calculator, watch, or the older iPods, which have "old school" LCD displays; but even then, aren't solar cells dark in color? How would you see the LCD elements against a dark background?
  • Reply 5 of 41
    t0mat0t0mat0 Posts: 58member
    "Wireless control" - so on both the device and the battery?
  • Reply 6 of 41
    h0mih0mi Posts: 4member
    Wouldn't a replaceable battery fit the bill just as well?
  • Reply 7 of 41
    lilgto64lilgto64 Posts: 1,147member
    as near as I can tell the InCase Snap Battery case has a built-in 30 pin dock connector on the bottom that does not require the case to be removed from the phone to use with most any existing dock device and or cable provided the extra width of the case fits into the dock of course.
  • Reply 8 of 41
    roockaroocka Posts: 25member
    How would this jive with the Liquidmetal fuel cell battery patent?
  • Reply 9 of 41
    blastdoorblastdoor Posts: 1,928member
    Would the battery literally be in the cable? Or would it be in the little block thing that the two cables plug into?
  • Reply 10 of 41
    I got the ip4 mainly bc of the 40% increase in batt. life over the 3Gs. I can see the diff. With the 3Gs I bought a Mophie battery that was built into the case. I really liked it especially when was flying or out all day. It did add bulk to the phone and didn't attach it every day for that reason. It was a white 3Gs and the batt. case was white. My brother in law said it looked like something a star wars trooper would carry. I never really liked it after that.



    The Mophies for the ip4 look slimmer. But I'm reluctant to buy accessories bc Apple changes so much and I always sell my old one and the latest model.



    Oh well.



    Best
  • Reply 11 of 41
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by tipoo View Post


    Apple patents literally thousands of things without making them, I'm not putting much hope into this until at least some leaked prototypes show up.



    Another energy creating prototype was spotted in the wild recently.











  • Reply 12 of 41
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by h0mi View Post


    Wouldn't a replaceable battery fit the bill just as well?



    Of course not. That would make too much sense. So, instead, let's patent putting a battery on a power charger.



    As if that is new, novel, non-obvious in any way shape or form that deserves a patent.



    edit: Oh and btw, the battery in that unit would also be not user replaceable - it would look tasteless with all those seems.
  • Reply 13 of 41
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by h0mi View Post


    Wouldn't a replaceable battery fit the bill just as well?



    No it won't.
  • Reply 14 of 41
    jacksonsjacksons Posts: 244member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by sprockkets View Post


    Quote:

    Originally Posted by h0mi

    Wouldn't a replaceable battery fit the bill just as well?



    Of course not. That would make too much sense. So, instead, let's patent putting a battery on a power charger.



    As if that is new, novel, non-obvious in any way shape or form that deserves a patent.



    Where is the +1 button?
  • Reply 15 of 41
    inklinginkling Posts: 731member
    Quote:

    But the need for such third-party external battery makers could be significantly lessened if Apple were to follow through on its pursuit of power adapters with integrated rechargeable batteries.



    It'd be more accurate to say that Apple's refusal to license MagSafe to companies that make the sorts of power products that Apple doesn't make would be less irritating if Apple actually made similar products. But we shouldn't forget that in this case that Apple product is something that's overly complex and expensive, particularly for on-the-go travelers.



    In my case, all I want is a little $10 MagSafe adapter that'd let me use my two iGo power supplies with my MacBook rather than hassle with swapping my one Apple-built supply. iGo has already engineered the adapter. All they need is Steve Jobs signature on a sheet of paper.



    There's perhaps no better illustration of how the mindset at Apple differs from the rest of the industry than this. Every other laptop maker has no problem with permitting iGo adapters for their products. Only Apple has this bizarre obsession with control.
  • Reply 16 of 41
    jb510jb510 Posts: 124member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by sprockkets View Post


    Of course not. That would make too much sense. So, instead, let's patent putting a battery on a power charger.



    As if that is new, novel, non-obvious in any way shape or form that deserves a patent.



    edit: Oh and btw, the battery in that unit would also be not user replaceable - it would look tasteless with all those seems.



    Apple's propensity for patent applications that are obvious and often cover product already on the market is bothersome... Not unusual thoughts many companies do the semester and I find it bothersome as well.



    Zagg Spark? Awesome battery plugs into wall directly... NuPower makes one too...
  • Reply 17 of 41
    wigginwiggin Posts: 2,265member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by h0mi View Post


    Wouldn't a replaceable battery fit the bill just as well?



    Well, if you believe Apple's explanation, and there is no reason not to, a replaceable battery would not be able to have the same capacity as a non-replaceable battery because of the extra room used inside the computer for the battery compartment, latches, connectors, etc. So by using a non-replaceable battery, Apple can include a larger capacity battery for your laptop.



    So which would you rather have? A smaller, replaceable battery you have to swap out more frequently because it has a smaller capacity? Or a larger built-in battery which greatly reduces the need to have a spare battery in the first place?



    Given that the vast majority of laptop users didn't buy spare batteries in the first place, it seems Apple has made the right choice. What other full-sized laptop maker can claim 7-10 hours of use on a single charge? That's already two batteries worth of charge for most other laptops.
  • Reply 18 of 41
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by xsu View Post


    Having a solar cell under the LCD of iDevice would be a much nicer solution. Especially for iPad, a large solar cell under that large screen can probably extend the battery life indefinitely for a light user.



    Do you have an example of this in the real world? From everything I’ve read on solar chargers they need a much larger area than the iPhone can still take a very, very, very long time to charge.





    Quote:
    Originally Posted by h0mi View Post


    Wouldn't a replaceable battery fit the bill just as well?



    Try using both and you’ll see that isn’t the case.



    Rigamarole for user replaceable battery:
    1. Use phone until battery is nearly dead.

    2. Stop what you’re doing.

    3. Remove battery cover.

    4. Remove battery

    5. Get new battery in pocket/bag.

    6. Insert new battery

    7. Restart phone.

    8. …wait for it to boot up.

    9. Use battery.

    But that’s only one-half of the problem. The other half is charging these batteries up.
    1. Plug in charger.

    2. Wait for phone to charge (set alarm for 2 hours if you need to wake up in middle of night because you have some trip in the AM).

    3. Remove cover.

    4. Remove battery.

    5. Find other battery (hopefully you planned this out).

    6. Insert other battery.

    7. Replace cover.

    8. Repeat for each battery you have.

    It’s a huge pain in the ass unless you have a separate device that will charge multiple batteries at once, but even then you are still dealing with another charger that is usually weighty and making your cellphone battery door always in action so be prepared to keep some tape on hand for when the cheap plastic wears down and the door doesn’t want to stay on any longer. I hear Verizon has nifty tape with their logo on it specifically for that reason.





    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Inkling View Post


    It'd be more accurate to say that Apple's refusal to license MagSafe to companies that make the sorts of power products that Apple doesn't make would be less irritating if Apple actually made similar products. But we shouldn't forget that in this case that Apple product is something that's overly complex and expensive, particularly for on-the-go travelers.



    That would be nice. I used to have 2 extra batteries (total of 3) for my Mac notebook . It was a complete pain for charging but it was helpful in my travels where I wasn’t near a decent power source for a week or more.



    I’d also like Apple to offer a cigaretter lighter option. This might have to be a trickle charger that can’t be used while in use (except maybe for the MBAs), but it would be something for the car. Converting the car’s DC to AC for the plug and PSU it comes with just to be converted back to DC is inefficient for such a short range. The last time I looked their airplane plug could not be converted to work with a car.
  • Reply 19 of 41
    jacksonsjacksons Posts: 244member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by solipsism View Post




    Rigamarole for user replaceable battery:
    1. Use phone until battery is nearly dead.

    2. Stop what you?re doing.

    3. Remove battery cover.

    4. Remove battery

    5. Get new battery in pocket/bag.

    6. Insert new battery

    7. Restart phone.

    8. ?wait for it to boot up.

    9. Use battery.




    What I am learning is that simple things can be made to look complicated and cumbursome by breaking them down into smaller and smaller steps.



    You did forget to put the battery cover back on though.
  • Reply 20 of 41
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by solipsism View Post


    Try using both and you’ll see that isn’t the case.



    Rigamarole for user replaceable battery:
    1. Use phone until battery is nearly dead.

    2. Stop what you’re doing.

    3. Remove battery cover.

    4. Remove battery

    5. Get new battery in pocket/bag.

    6. Insert new battery

    7. Restart phone.

    8. …wait for it to boot up.

    9. Use battery.

    But that’s only one-half of the problem. The other half is charging these batteries up.
    1. Plug in charger.

    2. Wait for phone to charge (set alarm for 2 hours if you need to wake up in middle of night because you have some trip in the AM).

    3. Remove cover.

    4. Remove battery.

    5. Find other battery (hopefully you planned this out).

    6. Insert other battery.

    7. Replace cover.

    8. Repeat for each battery you have.

    It’s a huge pain in the ass..



    How about
    1. Turn phone off

    2. Replace battery with another.

    3. Turn on

    And for list two, a simple $3 battery charger for your phone that accepts USB power works.



    Laptops are a different story.
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