Apple macOS update removes 'time remaining' feature, so that people don't know how little battery they have left

The move appears to be a way of addressing ongoing complaints about how unreliable the timer was

Andrew Griffin
Wednesday 14 December 2016 16:42
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Apple chief executive Tim Cook unveils the latest Macbook Pro range during an event at the Apple Headquarters in Cupertino, California
Apple chief executive Tim Cook unveils the latest Macbook Pro range during an event at the Apple Headquarters in Cupertino, California

Apple has stopped telling people how long their laptops are going to last before they die.

Until this week, MacBooks have had a "time remaining" feature that estimated roughly how much charge was left in the battery, and how long that would be expected to last. But that has been removed, apparently because it was too often wrong.

Now Apple computers will only tell people how much of the battery is left as a percentage, rather than as an amount of time.

The change has come soon after the release of the new MacBook Pro, including the ones with a Touch Bar, which seem to have a more unpredictable battery life than previous MacBooks. That had drawn complaints that it was impossible to tell how long was left – and the move appears to be the result of those complaints.

Windows computers do give an estimate of the remaining battery life, apparently based on the likely amount of power used by computers with comparable parts.

One Apple commentator, Jim Dalrymple, said that Apple had only removed the indicator because "it wasn't accurate". Because people use their computers in "dynamic ways", he claimed, and "not having an accurate indicator is confusing".

But another, John Gruber, joked that it was like "being late for work and fixing it by breaking your watch". He later said that wasn't necessarily accurate – and that it might be more like having a watch that's showing the wrong time and therefore deciding to stop wearing a watch at all.

Mr Gruber also dismissed the idea that iOS devices like iPhones and iPads have never had "time remaining" indicators, and have instead only shown percentages.

"I know iOS has never had a time remaining estimate," he wrote. "That’s fine for iOS. I think it’s useful on MacBooks, especially just as a loose estimate."

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