If you’re thinking about buying a third-party charging dock for the Apple Watch, you may want to wait for officially-licensed versions to come around.
Sources have told 9to5Mac that Apple will soon include smartwatch charging modules in its Made for iPhone/iPad/iPod (MFi) licensing program. This will allow for new docks with integrated wireless chargers.
Although several third-party Apple Watch docks are available already—with some even popping up before the smartwatch went on sale—none of them have an actual charger built-in. Instead, users must take Apple’s official charger and snake it through the dock, which essentially acts as a fancy container. With Apple’s blessing, official docks should have their own charging module and power supply.
As 9to5Mac notes, this is similar to the existing programs that Apple has for its Lightning cables. Manufacturers receive the necessary components—in this case, a round, magnetic pad—that they can use in their own charger designs.
Still, it may be a while before official third-party Apple Watch docks hit the market. Apple is reportedly providing “sample quantities” of its charging modules to manufacturing partners now, and 9to5Mac says to expect the first licensed accessories to arrive by year-end.
Why this matters: While Apple-sanctioned docks will likely be more expensive than unofficial solutions, they should allow for simpler and slicker designs. They’ll also free up the charger that comes with the Apple Watch, so users can keep it elsewhere in the house or stash it in a travel bag. We may even see combined docks for Apple Watch and iOS devices, allowing a single power supply to charge up all your Apple gadgets.