Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Apple Releases More OS Updates

Hot on the heels of yesterday’s iOS and tvOS updates come updates for Apple’s other operating systems, WatchOS and MacOS.1

The WatchOS update contains a bevy of bug fixes and performance improvements, as usual, but some users are reporting that it’s bricking their Apple Watches and it has — for now at least — been pulled.

It’s particularly troublesome for a Watch update because, unlike any other Apple product, the Watch isn’t serviced in-store. If Apple’s standard troubleshooting instructions don’t work, each one must be shipped off for assessment and repair with an estimated two-week turnaround.2

The MacOS update includes some great new wallpapers and a new set of emoji, but it also removes the battery life estimator from the menu bar.

Jim Dalrymple:

However, to help users better determine the battery life, Apple has removed the “time remaining” indicator from the battery icon in the menu bar with the latest update. You can still see the image on the top of the screen, and you can see the percentage, but you will no longer be able to see how much time is remaining before your battery dies.

The reason for removing it is very simple: it wasn’t accurate.

Removing a primary indicator of battery life and saying that it’s a means to “help users better determine the battery life” is, frankly, hilarious.

Michael Tsai:

I tend to think that an inaccurate (but constantly updating) estimate is better than none. Otherwise, people will have to make their own estimates, which takes attention and is likely to be even less accurate. I never liked how the estimate claimed to be accurate down to the minute. I would like to see an estimate with fewer significant digits, both to hide the erratic changes and to avoid over-representing the accuracy.

Agreed. I’ve never been one of those people who enables the percentage battery meter, but having an indicator of how much time I have left on my Mac is very helpful. I’d be much happier if the estimator rounded to the nearest quarter-hour, downwards, and indicated that it was an approximation.

Update: Marco Arment:

Having used Apple laptops for over a decade, I’ve always found the time-remaining estimate to also be a good indicator of how much power I’m burning with my current activities so I can “budget” my battery usage when I’m going to need it.

At the start of a long flight, for instance, I can check the time estimate, and if it only says I have 2 hours left at 90%, I know something’s burning a ton of power and I can go do something about that. A percentage only tells you the current state, not the rate of change — it would take much longer to notice an unexpected power drain from the percentage alone.

Apple tried this once already, in Mountain Lion, but reinstated the “time remaining” display because it’s the single most useful metric to users running on battery power. It should be brought back.


  1. For those wondering, the capitalization of these is, in my head, dictated by whether the prefix is pronounced as individual letters, or as a word. ↩︎

  2. My nine-year run of never damaging a mobile Apple product came to an end recently when I dropped my first-generation Watch on the tiled floor in my kitchen, shattering its screen. The cost to repair it was nearly the same as buying a Series 1 model and I wouldn’t have to wait, so that’s what I got. A shame, really. ↩︎