FCC filings reveal mysterious Apple device

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Is this the return of AirPort or something else entirely?

Image credit: Fletcher6/Wikimedia

Apple’s long-neglected AirPort product line was formally retired in 2018 following two years of rumoured disbandment of the router division.

Is there a chance for a return, though? A 9to5Mac report on an intriguing FCC file has sparked excitement among the tech community.

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According to a non-disclosure agreement in effect until November, the entry for a device code-named A2657 only mentions a “network adapter.”

Despite this, a few details may be made out at the moment. As well as USB-C port and antennae for Bluetooth/WiFi/NFC and Gigabit Ethernet, it has a USB-A port. Despite the fact that it includes a built-in battery, it appears that USB-A is the primary method of powering this device.

9to5Mac deduces that the firmware “19F47” it runs is an early internal version of iOS 15.5, based on its 32GB storage and 1.5GB RAM. According to the site, that suggests it’s presumably made of Apple silicon.

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Both versions are identical, however the Lightning port is replaced by a USB-C port and this one only has 1GB RAM for some reason.

Don’t get your hopes up

In the face of the words “Apple network adapter,” it’s easy to get enthusiastic about the reintroduction of AirPort on MacBooks with a new adapter from Apple. Technology in this area has progressed much since Apple was last engaged in this area and Apple’s newfound embrace of privacy provides a wealth of new options.

It doesn’t appear like a return to networking is in the cards at this point in time.

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When the corporation moved its wireless engineers to other, more successful aspects of the business little over six years ago, a return to networking seemed like a reach. The company’s revenue has continued to increase since then.

Because of this, the most likely answer is that this won’t be a commercially viable product at all. Is this a diagnostic tool designed for Apple personnel who repair iPhones, iPad and Mac computers? If so, it isn’t for public use.

Perhaps once the NDA expires in November, if not sooner, we will be informed whether I am incorrect and this is something more intriguing.

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