Archive for December 28, 2017

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Apple’s Message to Customers About iPhone Batteries and Performance

Apple [archived version] (Hacker News, MacRumors, ArsTechnica):

We’ve been hearing feedback from our customers about the way we handle performance for iPhones with older batteries and how we have communicated that process. We know that some of you feel Apple has let you down. We apologize.


Apple is reducing the price of an out-of-warranty iPhone battery replacement by $50 — from $79 to $29 — for anyone with an iPhone 6 or later whose battery needs to be replaced, starting in late January and available worldwide through December 2018.

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.


In addition, a battery’s ability to provide power quickly may decrease. In order for a phone to function properly, the electronics must be able to draw upon instantaneous power from the battery. One attribute that affects this instantaneous power delivery is the battery’s impedance. A battery with a high impedance is unable to provide power quickly enough to the system that needs it. A battery's impedance can increase if a battery has a higher chemical age. A battery’s impedance will temporarily increase at a low state of charge and in a cold temperature environment. When coupled with a higher chemical age, the impedance increase will be more significant. These are characteristics of battery chemistry which are common to all lithium-ion batteries in the industry.


This power management works by looking at a combination of the device temperature, battery state of charge, and the battery’s impedance. Only if these variables require it, iOS will dynamically manage the maximum performance of some system components, such as the CPU and GPU in order to prevent unexpected shutdowns.

I think this is a pretty good response. An excellent response would have acknowledged the elephant in the room, which is that although Apple didn’t “do anything to intentionally shorten the life” of the phones, all the design parameters were of Apple’s choosing. iPhone’s desktop-class processors seem to draw power in a more problematic way than processors in competing phones, and Apple could have mitigated the problem by using larger batteries. They didn’t “shorten the life,” but neither did they communicate it to the customer, and they could have designed the phone to have a longer life.

If I were Apple, I’d just make the $29 battery replacement fee permanent, or at least for a certain number of years after the phone was purchased. That would generate a lot of good will.

Some remaining questions:

a f waller:

Making the price of a battery replacement $29 will destroy the sketchy third party battery market which has a lot of other benefits for both Apple and customers. Quality replacements that don’t break your phone.

Adam Banks:

This will also be useful for used iPhone buyers - a screengrab of the battery health report should become standard in listings (or a “not worse than” commitment for higher-volume resellers)

Jason Snell:

I don’t think Apple’s entirely disingenuous when it says it designs its products to last.

But I do think that Apple has never made any great effort to promote battery replacement over buying a new phone, or ensure iOS performance is acceptable on older models.

Nilay Patel:

I totally believe that they’re being sincere. I also think they want people to buy a new phone every two years. :)

John Gruber:

The funny thing about Apple is that their communication problems tend to happen only when they don’t communicate at all.

Rui Carmo:

I replaced my iPhone 6 battery back in August because it was failing around the 30% mark, and the performance increase was very noticeable indeed–right until iOS 11 came along, that is.

Even if 11.2 is now almost fast enough on this hardware, if I hadn’t replaced the battery the phone would likely be completely unusable by now.

Previously: Apple Confirms That It Throttles iPhones With Degraded Batteries.

Update (2018-01-02): Tim Hardwick:

This morning, French tech blog iGeneration reported that an internal Apple Store memo has been circulated which states that if a customer asks for a battery replacement on an iPhone 6 or later, then the Genius Bar should allow it, even if their phone passes Apple's own diagnostic test.

Joe Rossignol:

Apple also says customers who paid regular price (aka $79 in the U.S.) “may” be (a.k.a. are) eligible for a refund and should contact Apple[…]

Fred McCann:

The needle we’re using to thread this is that Apple slowed down phones to increase the life of older phones, not to provoke users to upgrade. That said, getting users to upgrade was undoubtedly the outcome of this practice, and Apple most certainly made a lot of money because of this.

Is that fraud? I don’t know, but it sounds like something that should be decided by a court. For anyone who spent hundreds of dollars upgrading a phone they didn’t want to, $50 off a future battery replacement is not a great remedy.

Benjamin Mayo:

If Apple wants to consider iPhone batteries as consumable, I don’t want them to profit off of the battery repairs. $29 is a palatable service cost to bear after two years of iPhone ownership, $79 stings. If their aim is to maximise the longevity of their devices, they should not have conflicts in incentives with making money from repairs down the road. I do not want Apple to run a razor and blades business model, even inadvertently.


I would also like to see Apple release estimated numbers on how long customers should expect to be able to use their iPhone at full performance.

Update (2018-01-03): Pierre Lebeaupin:

Such a thing was obviously documented internally, because it is an important change of behavior that their own QA teams will notice when qualifying the software for release, also because it resolves a support issue, so obviously customer support was in the loop so as to provide feedback on which compromises are acceptable, etc. And yet, at the end of the day, when the fix is about to widely land in people’s phones, the system inside Apple is so completely stuck up on secrecy that not even an extremely expurgated version of this documentation makes it out the door? What is wrong with you people?

Update (2018-01-05): Geoffrey Fowler (via Dan Masters):

When I showed up with an appointment at my closest Apple store on Jan. 3, there were so many others also trying to replace their batteries that I had to join a weeks-long waiting list. Your local shop might have more supply, but battling hordes for repair (rather than a sexy new phone) is an unusual experience at an Apple store.

Update (2018-01-08): Adam C. Engst:

The fact that Apple was doing something to address those shutdowns wasn’t a revelation. The company had said it was looking into the problem and claimed it had implemented a fix in iOS 10.2.1, back in early 2017. There was some dispute as to whether that actually happened since Apple included nothing in the release notes about it at the time (see “Apple Releases macOS Sierra 10.12.3, iOS 10.2.1, tvOS 10.1.1, and watchOS 3.1.1,” 23 January 2017). Subsequently, however, Apple amended iOS 10.2.1’s release notes to say:

It also improves power management during peak workloads to avoid unexpected shutdowns on iPhone.


Reading between the lines, it sounds like Apple is actually saying, “The batteries in these iPhones are underperforming in ways that we didn’t expect and don’t entirely understand.”

Update (2018-01-09): Joe Rossignol:

While we previously confirmed that Apple is offering $29 battery replacements to any customer with an iPhone 6 or newer regardless of diagnostic result, Apple has indicated that this policy can only be taken advantage of once, according to new fine print on its iPhone service pricing page.

Update (2018-01-11): Joe Rossignol:

Apple says iPhone 6 Plus replacement batteries are in short supply and won’t be available until late March to early April in the United States and other regions, according to an internal document distributed to Apple Stores and Apple Authorized Service Providers this week and later obtained by MacRumors.

Update (2018-01-19): Benjamin Mayo:

Tim Cook was asked for his take on Apple slowing down iPhones with degraded batteries. He revealed that the developer beta including these features will be released next month, with a public release to follow after.

Moreover, he says that this forthcoming update will give users the option to disable the throttling to maintain normal CPU performance, but will be at risk of unexpected shutdowns.

Benjamin Mayo:

I struggle to see the motivation for Apple to go further and make the behaviour optional. The existence of this setting, which will be available in a iOS developer beta released next month, is a contradiction of what Apple said in the public apology letter.

Update (2018-01-30): Bloomberg:

The U.S. Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission are investigating whether Apple Inc. violated securities laws concerning its disclosures about a software update that slowed older iPhone models, according to people familiar with the matter.

Update (2018-02-06): Juli Clover:

Apple vice president for public policy Cynthia Hogan answered Thune’s inquiry today and said that Apple is indeed looking into whether a rebate program can be provided to customers.

Update (2018-05-10): Joe Rossignol:

Apple has confirmed that “service inventory of all iPhone replacement batteries is now available without delay,” in an internal memo distributed to Apple Stores and its network of Apple Authorized Service Providers on April 27.

Update (2018-06-02): Juli Clover:

Apple is providing a $50 credit to all customers who paid for an out-of warranty battery replacement for an iPhone 6 or later between the dates of January 1, 2017 and December 28, 2017, the company announced today.

The $50 credit is an extension of Apple’s $29 battery replacement program, which went into effect in December of 2017 to provide lower-cost battery replacement options to customers potentially affected by performance throttling due to battery degradation.

Update (2019-09-13): ghost_of_ketchup (via Meek Geek):

IMO it was pretty unethical, because Apple themselves designed their A series chips with massive peak voltage requirements. They also designed the iOS CPU scheduler to aggressively and rapidly switch between this massive peak voltage and idle. I refuse to believe that Apple, with all their genius and engineering prowess, did not foresee the stress that this would put on the battery.

Apple knew that the design of their A series chips and CPU scheduler would prematurely degrade batteries and cause problems, but chose keynote bragging rights about CPU performance gains over device longevity. When people started noticing problems with premature shutdowns and random reboots, Apple first tried to claim that only a select few serial numbers were affected when they damn well knew this wasn’t the case. Then they tried secretly under-clocking devices, hoping consumers wouldn’t notice. Only when this was exposed and the whole thing became a scandal did Apple admit the fault affected all iPhones and offered battery replacements at a discounted price. For a limited time only.

Apple Support Tells Customers to Ask Developer for Refund

Charles Perry:

I would like to offer a giant raised middle finger to @AppStore Support for continuing to tell customers that they should contact me directly for a refund. @AppStore knows developers have no way to refund a purchase. Stop telling customers that we can!

This has been happening for all 9.5 years of the App Store. And some of the customers think we’re lying in order to keep their money when we say they have to ask Apple—because they reasonably assume that Apple knows how its own store works. Unfortunately, refunds are quite literally something only Apple can do.

Update (2017-12-28): Allen Pike:

This has happened for years, but since they recently removed the “Not working as expected” option on, it’s started happening far more often. We’ve sent some angry customers refunds directly at a 30% loss, but it’s unsustainable.

See also: How to get a refund for iTunes or App Store purchases.

Update (2018-01-01): Jerauld:

I subscribed to a year of a digital mag through the @AppStore and they stopped publishing 4 months in @AppleSupport said the app should refund me and I only have 30 days to ask #apple for a refund. Great scam charge for 12 months and Apple won’t help after 1st month

Update (2018-01-25): Dave Howell:

Sure would be nice if Apple Support didn’t tell Apple customers to contact app developers to request refunds for App Store purchases. Nutty.

Update (2019-01-23): Frank Reiff:

Now the Mac App Store customer service is referring customers to me to get a refund.. but of course I have no way of initiating a refund on the Mac App Store.. nor does Apple tell me WHO buys my products. 😬

Update (2024-04-29): Desairem (via Jeff Johnson):

Every now and then a user of one of my apps contacts me asking why they get an error when downloading or updating the app in the App Store (“Unable to Download App. “App” could not be installed. Please try again later.”). I tell them that third-party developers have no power over the App Store or its download/update process, and this is an issue they have to solve with Apple Care. But when they contact Apple Care, they are told that since it’s an issue with a third-party app, they have to contact the app developer. Sometimes the user is more inclined to believe what Apple Care tells them and they get angry at me. In any case, I feel helpless and frustrated, because I would love to help them, but have no means of doing so. There is something about the concept of App Store that makes some users believe that third-party developers have more power than they actually have: sometimes, for example, users contact me directly, or even leave reviews on the App Store, asking for a refund, which of course only Apple can do.

I continue to have problems where customers also can’t download apps outside the Mac App Store because macOS incorrectly reports them as damaged.

iOS 11 Double Copying

Dr. Drang:

There are some weird things going on with iOS’s Copy item in the Share Sheet. I made a short Workflow to get around a problem I’ve been having with it when trying to share the URL of a Washington Post story.

I mentioned the problem on Twitter a few weeks ago: I’m reading an article in the WaPo app that I want to link to. I bring up the Share Sheet, tap Copy, and switch to some other app I want to paste the URL into. Could be Drafts, Notes, Slack, Textastic—whatever. I then paste the URL and wait to see what happens. Depending on the app, I might get exactly what I expect (Notes and Textastic), or I might get a doubled version of the URL (Drafts and Slack).

I’ve seen this, too, copying from other apps. I wonder what’s causing this.

Update (2018-01-01): Dr. Drang:

Armed with these two bits of information, I started exploring and quickly confirmed that the text manipulation action in my workflow—the regex substitution that eliminates the superfluous URL—was unnecessary.

In fact, it wasn’t doing anything at all because the URL it was being fed wasn’t doubled.

OkCupid Removes Usernames

OkCupid (via Scott Perry):

You see, DaddyzPrincess29*, we all have names. Good, noble names that took weeks, perhaps months to choose— from Hannah to Jordan to Lady Bird. And what we’ve discovered is that those names actually work best—better than usernames—when it comes connecting with people.


Ahead of the new year, we’re removing OkCupid usernames. It’s starting with a test group and will soon be rolled out to everyone on OkCupid, so all users will need to update their profiles with what they want their dates to call them.

Andrew Abernathy:

Looking forward to using real names to identify most anyone I see on your site, and email their family & co-workers all the interesting details from their profiles. (Yes, usernames are frustrating. Real names are a nightmare, esp. for people with uncommon names.)

According to Ars Technica, OKC will only be sharing your first name and they won’t be verifying that it’s your legal name, so it seems like in effect this boils down to “display names no longer have to be unique.”

I don’t understand what problem they think this solves, nor what they’ve actually “discovered” about what works. How does having many accounts identified by the same first name help anyone? Why would you want to reveal your real name to people you aren’t even communicating with? The only benefit I see is potentially more privacy for users who reuse the same username across multiple sites.

Update (2018-01-01): Andrew Kelley (via Ashley Bischoff):

I’m an engineer at OkCupid. I think we didn’t communicate this change very well. Users are free to chose any nickname, and user names are no longer unique and identifying. It’s actually more anonymous than before.

So it’s puzzling that their blog post encouraged people to use their real names.

Twitter’s Weeds

Manton Reece:

Because tweets don’t exist outside of Twitter, when you’re banned, you’re done. For this reason, and because their business depends on a large user base, Twitter is hesitant to throw anyone off their service. They’re unwilling to tend the garden for fear of pulling too many weeds.

Imagine instead a service based on blogs, where the internal posts on the platform were the same format as the external posts. The curators of the platform would have more freedom to block harassing posts and ban nazis because those problematic users could always retreat to their own web site and leave everyone else in the community alone.

That’s how the web is supposed to work. It’s a core principle of

I hope this can work, but as with and Gab I find it hard to think about using a second service alongside Twitter.