What could Apple’s network adapter be used for?

A recent FCC document describes a new Apple “network adapter” that runs iOS. Does this mean that Apple will relaunch its line of AirPort Wi-Fi routers in 2022?

A new Apple The design was revealed in an FCC filing, but it’s not just a component of an iPhone, iPad, or other network-connected device. Described as a “network adapter”, it is a complete product in its own right. This suggests that Apple may be returning to a product category it abandoned several years ago. Wireless routers and AirPort wireless cards from Apple once pushed the limit of connection speeds and managed to offer a bit easier setup for Mac computers.

Apple’s first AirPort was launched in 1999 at the annual Macworld event and new models continued to arrive until 2013. As the company continued to focus on mobile devices, such as the iPhone and the Apple Watch, the AirPort received no attention, lagging behind the competition. The AirPort line was finally discontinued in 2016. There were plenty of lower cost alternatives that offered similar ease with improved speed, which made it difficult to compete with Apple’s AirPort as it used older technology.


Related: How to view a HomePod’s Wi-Fi signal strength

For any product developed that uses radio frequencies, Apple must seek regulatory approval from the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC). A recent FCC document that 9to5Mac Spotted reveals that Apple has a new product called a “network adapter”. A sample of this device was sent to the agency in January. Every new iPhone and other Apple products go through similar processes. With two Gigabit Ethernet ports, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and NFC antennas, plus a USB-C port, this looks like a pretty full-featured Wi-Fi router. Another version of the same product replaces the USB-C port with a Lightning port. It seems somewhat advanced, being able to run iOS 15.5.

New Apple AirPort in 2022?

Apple iPhone AirDrop Airport SFO

The question remains as to what this network adapter really is and whether Apple will release an updated version of its AirPort with technology that makes it ready to compete in 2022? Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case. The frequencies noted by the FCC include 13.56 megahertz and three ranges between 2.4 and 2.5 gigahertz. The first is for NFC (Near-Field Communication) and the second is for Wi-Fi using the older, slower 2.4 gigahertz frequencies.

This implies that it probably won’t be a consumer-facing device. Instead, it could serve a particular purpose in Apple Stores or in its offices. 2.4 gigahertz can penetrate walls better than 5 gigahertz frequencies and is sometimes better suited for offices than inside homes. The inclusion of USB-C in one version and a Lightning port in another indicates use with Apple mobile devices, such as the iPhone and iPad, which could make testing and repairs easier. While an interesting finding, this FCC document likely doesn’t predict the return of Apples AirPort line in 2022.

Next: How to View Your Saved Wi-Fi Passwords on a Mac (The Easy Way)

Source: FCC, 9to5Mac

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