By Adam Doud | January 2, 2014 7:00 AM
We were so close. So close we could taste it. It was right there. A softball toss just waiting for us to knock it out of the park, trot around the bases, blow kisses at the little red light on the camera and sign a multi-year deal with the Kansas City Royals, only to be traded mid-season after your 14 game losing streak ends against the White Sox (oh no he didn’t, oh yes he did). But there we were at the plate, swinging and missing and slumping back to the dugout dragging our bat behind us like a caveman and his club.
Oh don’t get me wrong, the Nexi (Nexuses? Nexusi?) phones and tablets and devices coming from Windows Phone bed buddy Nokia came close. Except in the 1020, it came with a hit-or-miss optional case (or as I call it “ugly hat”) and in the Nokia 1520 AT&T took the liberty of bastardizing the original design and sucking the Qi right out of it and replacing it with…you guessed it…an ugly hat which utilizes Powermat tech as opposed to every-other-Nokia-phone’s Qi standard. Of course this is when the door opens to a rant about carrier interference, but we’re going to walk right past that portal and continue onward.
Wireless charging is really cool. It’s really convenient. It eliminates a lot of frustration that goes along with charging one’s phone. It’s here for a reason. A lot of people like this which is why there are not one, but two standards competing with each other to bring this awesome to the masses. They’re not to blame. They recognize what’s what. The problem is the OEMs do not see the value add, and when they do, the carrier sticks its big nose in and mucks up the works.
Now I could also go off on a rant here about why wireless charging is awesome but I’ll try and keep my cool. First of all, micro USB connectors stink. They’re one sided and unless you happen to memorize how the plug is positioned on your phone, chances are you will try to plug it in upside down, especially when your full and complete attention is not solely focused on the task of plugging your phone in. Sure, in the future the next generation of microUSB is said to be omnidirectional, ala the lightning connector coming out of Cupertino. This will help, but it’s not here yet and it won’t solve the problem until it is.
Second, it’s arguable that most of us plug in our phones and set them down on tables. The problem is this little thing called gravity. Too often those cables, when not in use, will slide down and land on the floor, where they are either unreachable, extremely inconvenient to get to, or in my case, get attacked by a vacuum cleaner. Sure there are life hacks out there that show you how to avoid just such an occurrence, some involving bread products, but if the cable is already attached to a charging plate, your problem is solved and you just saved yourself a trip to the bakery.
We’ve already discussed how to make wireless charging succeed in the mobile space. The Reader’s Digest version of it is stop making it optional, or something you have to buy an accessory to use. Build it into the device and ship it with the charger. They can make money selling additional chargers. Pick a standard and stick with it – I’m talking to you Nokia.
Doing it right
Wireless charging was one of the most loved aspects of webOS devices, and it wasn’t even part of the OS. It was simply a hardware choice. After the initial release of the Pre minus and the Pixi, it was automatically built into every device shipped up until its demise. Despite the fact that wireless charging was not OS specific, it quickly became synonymous with it. People went ape-crazy whenever a touchstone came on sale anywhere. I specifically remember a certain series of sales from Verizon which is the prime reason I have a boatload of car chargers and faux leather pouches sitting in a drawer.
Bottom line, Palm did wireless charging correctly except for having its own proprietary charging technology, not compatible with future non-Palm devices. Had Palm adopted Qi, boy would I have been a much happier camper the day I picked up my Lumia 920 – also a phone with integrated wireless charging technology.
Yes wireless charging has its disadvantages. Just now, my charging phone beeped with a notification and I can’t see what it is because I can’t grab it off the table lest I stop it from charging. You got me. Hail the conquering hero. Now shaddap. The good far outweighs the bad. And for the haters out there, I fully advocate the inclusion of hard wired charging technology. If you don’t want it, don’t use it. But you will not be sitting at the cool kids table.
I personally look forward to 2014 as a year in which technology advances, not on the spec sheet, but in the usability of devices. It advances in the innovation of that which we do not know we want. Most of the people in the world do not know they want wireless charging. It’s up to OEMs to show them that they do. So in a couple of months, set your GS5 down on its charging plate and lift your iPad 6 off its charging cradle, read this article once more, and you’re welcome.
Car charging image source: Engadget