Tag: Battery

Apple’s Battery Mess

One of the issues with today’s technology is that almost every device relies on a battery. Maybe there will be a giant leap in battery technology that makes them effectively obsolete. Unfortunately, it is not likely a giant leap will be found soon. Hence, we are stuck with modern battery technology. Most batteries in today’s technology is based on lithium-ion technology. One of the issues with this technology is that it may no longer be able to provide all of the necessary power to devices. Up through September of 2016, if an iPhone was not capable of providing the necessary power to the device, it may act in strange ways. The most noticeable of these is that the device might end up shutting down. This is an unacceptable solution.

Starting with iOS 10.2.1, which was released in January of 2017, Apple made some changes in order to minimize the instances of iPhones inexplicably shutting down. The change that they made was to reduce the speed of the iPhones in order to reduce the burden on an iPhone’s battery. By doing this, users will still be able to keep using their iPhones. Along with this, if you went to “Settings” -> “Battery” and iOS detected issue with the battery you would see a notice indicating that you might need to get the battery serviced.

All of this came to light due to a set of benchmarks that were run that showed that the speed of the iPhone was noticeably slower. Once these benchmarks were released, it played directly into the narrative that Apple was deliberately slowing down devices to force users to upgrade. This was not the case.

Even though this is not the case, Apple has acknowledged the issue with their approach. At first they released a support article the discusses Lithium-Ion batteries. While this is informational, it did not directly address the cause. In order to help rectify it, Apple has issued an open letter. In this, Apple indicates that they will be reducing the price for out of warranty battery replacements. Currently, it is $79. Starting in late January, this price will be reduced to $29. This will be valid on iPhone 6 models, and later, from late January 2018 to December of 2018.

This is a good step to help those who have purchased an iPhone 6, or later, to be able to continue to use their devices. As the message about the battery states “Early in 2018, we will issue an iOS software update with new features that give users more visibility into the health of their iPhone’s battery, so they can see for themselves if its condition is affecting performance.” This is absolutely necessary and should have been done before.

With this apology and price reduction, Walt Mossberg, former technology writer, had something to say about it in a series of tweets. Or you can read it in its entirety

It is as follows:

It’s natural that, after Apple’s apology and battery replacement discount, people are calling for the return of user-replaceable batteries in phones and other devices. And it may well happen. But one big reason Steve Jobs wanted to get rid of replaceable batteries was to make room for *larger* batteries, taking advantage of the space gained by eliminating the user-accessible battery compartments and covers and user-safe casings. Thinness was secondary. And industry sales figures showed hardly anyone bought spare batteries or kept them charged, and that device turnover was fast enough that degrading batteries weren’t much of an issue. Also, in the case of phones, their processors and other components for years weren’t potent enough to run truly powerful software or tax the batteries nearly as much as they do today. Now, I wouldn’t be surprised to see 2020 smartphones with much more easily replaceable batteries, especially since Apple is now calling them “consumable” components.

Mossberg makes a good point, particularly the last sentence “especially since Apple is now calling them ‘consumable’ components.” If this is truly the case, then I would expect Apple to begin incorporating user-replaceable batteries. It would be nice to see a return, however I do not know how likely it is. I am sure that Apple will begin looking the feasibility of replaceable batteries. I do not expect it for 2018, but as Mossberg postulates, 2020 is a possibility.

It is not known what Apple will end up doing in the long run, but it would be nice to see a bit more flexibility. However, with the move to subscription phone subsidies, the need for user-replaceable batteries may be moot and not really an issue. Yes, this is absolutely bad for Apple, but Apple cannot control chemistry and the way that chemicals react. Should Apple have warned users, yes. I hope that Apple learns from its mistake and provides more information to the users. This incident may cause some users to switch to Android, but ultimately I do not think it will hurt Apple sales that much, but time will tell on that. Even with this battery issue, having an iPhone feel slower is still not as bad as having them explode, as Samsung experienced with their Galaxy Note 7, even so, this is not good.

Apps and Battery Usage on iPhone

There are many different things that users complain about regarding their iPhones. The biggest complaint that many users have had in that their iOS devices seem to be losing a significant amount of battery, even when using a brand new phone. This has lead to users complaining to Apple. One of the things that Apple has done with multi-tasking is to pause applications when they are in the background. There are certain situations where this does not occur. These include background app-refreshing, background audio, Voice over iP (VoIP), or GPS.

Sometimes, it is so bad that some users purposefully force quit applications in order to preserve battery. Users do this despite there being no practical reason to do so. However, maybe users who do this may not be too far off the mark.

Last week it was uncovered that Facebook’s iOS application was using a significant amount of battery even when users were not actively using the application.

Bruce Geerdes on Twitter has this tweet:

Within the image, 13% of all battery usage for the last week was due to audio. Now, why is Facebook’s app even using background audio? It is not a streaming any audio what-so-ever.

As Federico Viticci states in his piece on MacStories.net:

My guess is that Facebook is hijacking audio sessions on iOS by keeping silent audio in the background whenever a video plays in the app. And because, by default, videos on Facebook auto-play on both Wi-Fi and Cellular and few people ever bother to turn it off, that means there’s a high chance the Facebook app will always find a way to play a video, keep audio in the background, and consume energy to perform background tasks.

I think Federico is spot on with this presumption. Facebook is the world’s largest social network, and how do you make sure that your users are “always up to date”, play silent audio in the background so the application can auto-refresh without consequence, that’s how.

When questioned, Facebook stated they were “looking into” the issue, and subsequently Facebook has informed TechCrunch that they are working on a “fix”.

This is all well and good, but I think Apple should take a stance and remove the Facebook application from the iOS App store. This gesture would make it abundantly clear that Apple will not tolerate user-hostile actions like this from any developer, including the world’s biggest social network. Removing the application would likely have some ramifications on users because they would not be able to download the application, but it would send a very strong signal.

Do I think this will happen? In a word, no. I do not think Apple is willing to remove the largest social network’s application from its App Store. However, I think Apple could do a couple of things to make sure that no application is able to do this in the future, not even Facebook.

The first is do some additional testing for any applications. See what usage they have after a set amount of time. I would not expect Apple to disclose this amount of time, so developers cannot work around it. The second is to keep a database of developers whom violate the rules, and scrutinize their application updates for what they had previous violated. This means that developers would not be able to break a user’s trust repeating the same action they have in the past.

Ultimately, I think if Apple really wants to have the best experience for users, they should be holding developers accountable for their actions and punishing those developers who violate the rules and provide a significantly negative user experience. One thing that I would not be surprised at is if Mark Zuckerberg gets a phone call from Tim Cook or another Apple executive inquiring as to why this is occurring.

Daily Run Down 06/19/2013: Morning Edition

Here is this morning’s Daily Run Down.

Social Issues/Human Interest

General News

Politics

Science/Space

Financial

Historical

Gaming

Law

Patents

Technology

Internet

Mobile

London/Britain/UK

Funny

Chicagoland

Total Number of stories: 53

Look for more news stories this evening.

Daily Run Down 06/18/2013: Evening Edition

Here is this evening’s Daily Run Down.

Social Issues/Human Interest

General News

International

Politics

Health

Science/Space

Financial

Historical

Tips and Tricks

Gaming

Gadgets

Reviews

Law

Patents

Technology

Internet

Mobile

Rumors

Developer

London/Britain/UK

Personal

Funny

Chicagoland

Total Number of stories: 91

Look for more stories tomorrow.