Apple did not finish 2017 with a flourish. Once news broke that it was intentionally slowing iOS devices down when the battery health fell without letting users know, the company was accused of nobbling older devices in order to coerce them into buying new devices. Apple CEO, Tim Cook, has revealed that an upcoming update will giver users more control over this “feature”.
Saying the iOS update that caused older devices to slow down was part ensuring the iPhone user experience was optimised by preventing unexpected shutdowns, Cook revealed the company will be releasing an update that allows users to monitor battery health (search for “battery health” in the iOS app store and you’ll find a truckload of utilities that do this) and decide for themselves whether they want to throttle performance or run the gauntlet of a spontaneous shut down.
Back when I had an iPhone 6, my device suffered from spontaneous shutdowns when the battery said it had between 20% and 30% remaining. After a week of unexpected shutdowns, I went to my local Apple store and the Apple Genius replaced my iPhone without hesitation, telling me it was a known issue with device reliability. He went as far as to say the there was no guarantee the replacement device wouldn’t do the same.
So, this issue of reliability isn’t new. But Apple’s solution, while effective at one level, was poor PR and indicates a greater malaise I think.
Apple continued quest for simplification of the user interface, under the guise of improving the user experience has tipped too far. iOS is very easy to use because Apple’s approach to UI design is to strip away almost everything that could get into a user’s way. But the problem is power users miss out on lots of control.
And now that iOS is over ten years old, there are lots of people who no longer need iOS training wheels. But Apple relentlessly removes the ability for users to manage their own preferences.
Perhaps this is the start of Apple cleaning up iOS’ configuration and customisation options, and giving users a little bit more responsibility and control for how their devices operate.