A year and a half ago, Apple was taking shots from all sides over their handling of “optimizing” the performance of worn iPhone batteries by throttling the processor. While throttling processor performance to prevent problems is common in different areas of the tech sector, it was the fact that Apple wasn’t forthcoming about what they were doing that got them in hot water.
While an apology and a LOT of discounted battery replacements smoothed things over for most users, Apple has continued to work on improving user data on battery status and true optimization in the background. They included much more detailed battery life tracking in iOS 11 and better battery health monitoring in iOS 12 that helps to identify issues early as batteries start to degrade.
Based on the iOS 13 beta, it looks like Apple is ready to go a little bit further when it comes to iPhone battery health. There is a new option under Settings-Battery that should help users to squeeze a little more life out of them.
Using Optimized Battery Charging, the phone will cut off charging at the 80% mark over long repeated periods. Why? This prevents the battery from sitting plugged in at 100%. It also prevents the possibility of the battery overheating while charging for a long period. Both of these situations are potentially damaging to battery life over time.
Optimized Battery Charging is another small way that Apple is using AI and machine learning to deliver useful new features. In this case, the iPhone will recognize patterns of use to determine when users are likely to charge their devices for longer periods and when they are likely to take them off charge. The iPhone will use this information to determine when to cut off charging at 80% and then resume charging with the goal of hitting 100% close to when charging is likely to stop. An obvious example for most people will be charging their iPhones overnight. In my case, another might be topping off in the car on the way home from work.
Considering that iPhone users are keeping their devices longer than ever, anything Apple does to not just monitor battery health, but actually preserve it, is a win for users. The progression of battery monitoring, health tracking and optimization over the last year and a half also show that the leadership at Apple learned some lessons from their last “gate.” They deserved the grief they got for not being open with customers about how they were handling battery issues in the past. Now I think they deserve a little credit for being pro-active in monitoring and preserving battery life and more transparent in their efforts.