Starbucks Powermat charging pads getting software upgrade for iPhone 8, iPhone X

Posted:
in iPhone
As it stands, the Powermat charging plates at Starbucks are incompatible with the Qi standard that the iPhone X and iPhone 8 use -- but a software fix by the vendor will remedy that at the coffee vendor's locations, and other retail establishments.




The Powermat technology was designed for modifications in software, rather than hardware to accommodate future standard emergences, according to a report on Thursday by Slashgear.

"The charge spot is two parts: one part is the kinetic part, which drives the power, and the other part is the controller which controls the power transfer," Powermat Chief Technical Officer Itay Sherman told Slashgear. "We've designed the magnetic part to be as generic as possible to cover all standards if possible."

One of those standards is Qi. Up until Apple's focus on Qi as it's preferred protocol, the vast majority of devices at Starbucks and other vendors used the Powermat technology. Apple users seeking to top up their iPhones while at the locations needed to use a Lightning dongle.

"If there's a new standard, a new variant of the standard -- you have PMA, you have Qi, you have Samsung's Wireless Fast Charging -- we can download new software to our points and support them," said Sherman. "The biggest difference between PMA and Qi is the communication protocols."

The technologies are mechanically the same. Both rely on the device needing power having a coil, in which a current is induced by a magnetic field on the charging pad. What it appears that the Powermat CTO is saying is what varies is how that hand-off is negotiated.

Roll-out of the software patch will depend on individual locations and logistical issues. However, Powermat expects the updates to be complete at Starbucks before the iPhone 8 is in the hands of consumers.

The fix is not universal to all Powermat hardware. Consumer-grade charging pads without the upgrade capability will not see any fixes for iPhone compatibility.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 13
    SoliSoli Posts: 7,630member
    1) I'm glad to read that they planned ahead.

    2) I'm surprised that they didn't already support Qi or whatever iPhone variant as I hadn't even heard of Powermat (PMA) and wonder if there 3rd-party Qi chargers may not work well with the new Apple devices.
  • Reply 2 of 13
    rob53rob53 Posts: 1,879member
    Soli said:
    1) I'm glad to read that they planned ahead.

    2) I'm surprised that they didn't already support Qi or whatever iPhone variant as I hadn't even heard of Powermat (PMA) and wonder if there 3rd-party Qi chargers may not work well with the new Apple devices.
    Found this website this morning, https://9to5toys.com/2017/09/12/best-qi-wireless-chargers-iphone-8/, discussing Qi chargers but they also aren't sure whether Apple made changes that might not allow some of them to work. Apple lists two on the Apple Store but both are >$50 while the Anker Qi wireless charging pad goes for $13 and they say Anker is a very good product so when will we know???


    RacerhomieX
  • Reply 3 of 13
    So it begins 
  • Reply 4 of 13
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 2,830administrator
    rob53 said:
    Soli said:
    1) I'm glad to read that they planned ahead.

    2) I'm surprised that they didn't already support Qi or whatever iPhone variant as I hadn't even heard of Powermat (PMA) and wonder if there 3rd-party Qi chargers may not work well with the new Apple devices.
    Found this website this morning, https://9to5toys.com/2017/09/12/best-qi-wireless-chargers-iphone-8/, discussing Qi chargers but they also aren't sure whether Apple made changes that might not allow some of them to work. Apple lists two on the Apple Store but both are >$50 while the Anker Qi wireless charging pad goes for $13 and they say Anker is a very good product so when will we know???


    Probably when people's hands get on the devices.

    Cases and other low-impact accessories, fine, but publishing a "Best Qi pad" roundup for the iPhone at this juncture seems premature.
    edited September 2017
  • Reply 5 of 13
    anomeanome Posts: 987member
    I suppose that will make up for the fact that no Starbucks I visited in the States last year actually had any of the rings available. (Actually, I tell a lie. I think one in San Francisco did have some, but all the Powermat tables were occupied by people who weren't using them.) This was while I was having problems with my battery in my iPhone 6, you know the battery problem that the 6S had that the 6 almost certainly didn't, except for people like me, apparently.

    I wonder if they're going to have USB-C rings available, and whether they could trickle-charge a MacBook...
  • Reply 6 of 13
    SoliSoli Posts: 7,630member
    rob53 said:
    Soli said:
    1) I'm glad to read that they planned ahead.

    2) I'm surprised that they didn't already support Qi or whatever iPhone variant as I hadn't even heard of Powermat (PMA) and wonder if there 3rd-party Qi chargers may not work well with the new Apple devices.
    Found this website this morning, https://9to5toys.com/2017/09/12/best-qi-wireless-chargers-iphone-8/, discussing Qi chargers but they also aren't sure whether Apple made changes that might not allow some of them to work. Apple lists two on the Apple Store but both are >$50 while the Anker Qi wireless charging pad goes for $13 and they say Anker is a very good product so when will we know???
    Probably when people's hands get on the devices.

    Cases and other low-impact accessories, fine, but publishing a "Best Qi pad" roundup for the iPhone at this juncture seems premature.
    Qi chargers on Amazon have already posted that they support the new Apple products, and maybe they know because they choose to support the full gamut of the Qi standard, but I think most (if not all) are just hoping or assuming it will work fine.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 13
    SoliSoli Posts: 7,630member
    anome said:
    I suppose that will make up for the fact that no Starbucks I visited in the States last year actually had any of the rings available. (Actually, I tell a lie. I think one in San Francisco did have some, but all the Powermat tables were occupied by people who weren't using them.) This was while I was having problems with my battery in my iPhone 6, you know the battery problem that the 6S had that the 6 almost certainly didn't, except for people like me, apparently.
    I say give it a year or two and I think we'll be seeing multi-device Qi charging starting to get built into many retail outlets and into home furniture. With future Starbucks remodels I think it will be ring-less so that every tablet already has it.

    I can already envision pubs with small lockers (free, coin, or NFC-based payments) where you place your phone flat in the locked cubby and it charges while you have a pint if it's low.

    I wonder if they're going to have USB-C rings available, and whether they could trickle-charge a MacBook...

    I'm not sure I'd ever be comfortable plugging my Mac into someone else's USB port. This is one of the reasons why I like Qi and I see no technical reasons why this couldn't be added to the bottom of Mac notebooks or the iPad.

  • Reply 8 of 13
    mike1mike1 Posts: 1,657member
    anome said:
    I suppose that will make up for the fact that no Starbucks I visited in the States last year actually had any of the rings available. (Actually, I tell a lie. I think one in San Francisco did have some, but all the Powermat tables were occupied by people who weren't using them.) This was while I was having problems with my battery in my iPhone 6, you know the battery problem that the 6S had that the 6 almost certainly didn't, except for people like me, apparently.

    I wonder if they're going to have USB-C rings available, and whether they could trickle-charge a MacBook...
    My two frequently-visited Starbucks always seem to have them available and if not, I just ask for one at the counter. Most all the tables have the pads, so of course not everybody sitting will be using them.
  • Reply 9 of 13
    mike1mike1 Posts: 1,657member
    Soli said:
    anome said:
    I suppose that will make up for the fact that no Starbucks I visited in the States last year actually had any of the rings available. (Actually, I tell a lie. I think one in San Francisco did have some, but all the Powermat tables were occupied by people who weren't using them.) This was while I was having problems with my battery in my iPhone 6, you know the battery problem that the 6S had that the 6 almost certainly didn't, except for people like me, apparently.
    I say give it a year or two and I think we'll be seeing multi-device Qi charging starting to get built into many retail outlets and into home furniture. With future Starbucks remodels I think it will be ring-less so that every tablet already has it.

    I can already envision pubs with small lockers (free, coin, or NFC-based payments) where you place your phone flat in the locked cubby and it charges while you have a pint if it's low.

    I wonder if they're going to have USB-C rings available, and whether they could trickle-charge a MacBook...

    I'm not sure I'd ever be comfortable plugging my Mac into someone else's USB port. This is one of the reasons why I like Qi and I see no technical reasons why this couldn't be added to the bottom of Mac notebooks or the iPad.

    Ideally, only a corner of an iPad would need to lay on top of the AirPower, leaving room for additional devices.
  • Reply 10 of 13
    anome said:
    (Actually, I tell a lie. I think one in San Francisco did have some, but all the Powermat tables were occupied by people who weren't using them.)

    I wonder if they're going to have USB-C rings available, and whether they could trickle-charge a MacBook...
    In SF, all the time I see people taking up the space so others can't use something.

    Anyhow, if anywhere in the world will have USB C-rings, it will definitely be in SF.  And they'll be out on display.
  • Reply 11 of 13
    calicali Posts: 3,495member
    Perfect excuse to bring up a vision I had the other day.

    I usually think of crazy acquisitions and reasons they'll work. The other day I was thinking of the keynote(the Qi part/Qinote) and it dawned on me....Apple acquire Starbucks.

    It's been in front of our faces all along. Starbucks is SO Apple, from their simple cafe designs and innovations to the endless barrage of Apple devices used by its customers.

    Why though?

    For one Apple can innovate the Cafes. Adding Qi support to the center of every table For iDevices and MacBooks, yes future MacBooks! Now MacBook users will never wanna leave.

    Alternate Apple gathering spot.
    Apple wants to bring people together at their stores but wouldn't that be a little crowded? I mean they're already crowded without special days.

    A Genius Bar
    Starbucks in the back of Apple Stores just works. Why not make the Genius Bar an actual bar? They just fit together. Just imagine it for a second....
     
    Apple Pay reward$
    More Apple Pay integration and Wallet adoption. Offer rewards and loyalty. In turn Apple adds profit. Simple as that. Starbucks is a big money maker.

    Brand strength
    The acquisition would make Amazon's Whole Foods but look like child's play. Amazon had zero connection to Whole Foods. The seeds are already planted for Apple Starbucks. They strangely attract Apple devices, are very Apple like, Wallet support etc.
    Throw in promotions like Starbucks gift cards with Apple products and you'll have a sweet ecosystem outside technology.

    Lastly Steve Jobs dreamed of an Apple Cafe. Make it a reality!
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 13
    anomeanome Posts: 987member
    mike1 said:
    anome said:
    I suppose that will make up for the fact that no Starbucks I visited in the States last year actually had any of the rings available. (Actually, I tell a lie. I think one in San Francisco did have some, but all the Powermat tables were occupied by people who weren't using them.) This was while I was having problems with my battery in my iPhone 6, you know the battery problem that the 6S had that the 6 almost certainly didn't, except for people like me, apparently.

    I wonder if they're going to have USB-C rings available, and whether they could trickle-charge a MacBook...
    My two frequently-visited Starbucks always seem to have them available and if not, I just ask for one at the counter. Most all the tables have the pads, so of course not everybody sitting will be using them.
    I did actually ask at the counter once or twice and got told they were all gone - either sold or stolen. As for the Starbucks I mention above, most of the tables that had charging pads in them were by the walls, obviously, where they could be connected to power without running cables across the floor (which seemed to be solid concrete, not false flooring). People often seem to prefer sitting near a wall, in some instances because they need a power point, but also because it's less out in the open, thus the free tables were in the middle of the room, and had no power connection.
  • Reply 13 of 13
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 2,830administrator
    Soli said:
    rob53 said:
    Soli said:
    1) I'm glad to read that they planned ahead.

    2) I'm surprised that they didn't already support Qi or whatever iPhone variant as I hadn't even heard of Powermat (PMA) and wonder if there 3rd-party Qi chargers may not work well with the new Apple devices.
    Found this website this morning, https://9to5toys.com/2017/09/12/best-qi-wireless-chargers-iphone-8/, discussing Qi chargers but they also aren't sure whether Apple made changes that might not allow some of them to work. Apple lists two on the Apple Store but both are >$50 while the Anker Qi wireless charging pad goes for $13 and they say Anker is a very good product so when will we know???
    Probably when people's hands get on the devices.

    Cases and other low-impact accessories, fine, but publishing a "Best Qi pad" roundup for the iPhone at this juncture seems premature.
    Qi chargers on Amazon have already posted that they support the new Apple products, and maybe they know because they choose to support the full gamut of the Qi standard, but I think most (if not all) are just hoping or assuming it will work fine.
    This, right here, is the problem. I'm hopeful things will go smooth, but at this juncture I am uncertain.
    watto_cobra
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