I was thinking about chargers today and came to the not-so-original conclusion that not only are we not getting USB-C on the iPhone, but eventually we'll have an iPhone with no ports as we know them today And since this site is fundamentally about solutions, not complaining about problems, I got to work on figuring out how this might actually work.
It starts with assuming that Apple doesn't hate us. I know, bold, but that's not the place a lot of people start, so it's worth noting.
Next, you have to look at MagSafe, which was reborn this fall for the iPhone, and it looks solid. It's also hard not to look at this and think this is clearly a big part of the iPhone's future.
But MagSafe 1.0 (can a reboot still be a 1.0?) only lets you lock on and charge over the Qi wireless standard. This is great, but it doesn't solve for everything, such as a car mount that locks my phone in with a magnet, but I still need to plug into Lightning to make CarPlay work since I don't drive one of the few super fancy cars in 2020 that support it.
So given that Apple would want to get rid of the Lightning port, but would not want to make people feel like they need to make choices like "well, I want a new iPhone, but I don't want to lose CarPlay, so do I buy a new car too or just skip the iPhone?" Then what do they do?
My solution feels pretty obvious, which either means it's correct or is terribly off because of some horrible detail I don't know about that makes it impossible.
I would suggest that the Apple logo on the iPhone should become a smart connector, and when the MagSafe charger/cable attaches, it lines up a connector on the charger as well. If it detects a smart connector, then it does everything through that, and if it doesn't detect one then it just wirelessly charges.
A major complication here are cases. In theory, Aplpe cases could be made to have a pass-through in the case to let the connection go from the MagSafe puck to through the case and to the phone. As for third party cases, in theory this should be basic conductivity, but the MFI profram to help make sure cases from the big names had this working well too. This is more complicated and more expensive than what we have today, but hey, if Apple is going to make things more complicated, then things that used to be simple are going to get a little dicy.
So what do you think? Do you think Apple will do something like this? Will they say "to hell with anything wired, including CarPlay"? I'd love to hear what you think!