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Tim Cook Says Apple Will Soon Let You Turn Off The Controversial Performance-Throttling Feature That Helps Save Battery Life

Apple chief Tim Cook has once again apologised to the firm’s customers and promised to fix deliberate battery slowdowns on older iPhones.

Users of affected handsets, which the firm previously confessed to purposely reducing the performance of, will soon be able to switch off this function.

The changes, including a new battery health monitor, will be introduced in the next version of iOS.

A beta version of the operating system for developers that includes the features will be issued next month, with a public release likely to follow in March.

Cook says that the slowdown feature was introduced to prevent unanticipated shutdowns and not to force users to upgrade, as has been suggested, in an interview with ABC News.

The CEO claims that Cupertino-based firm’s focus was on the ‘user experience’, adding that Apple wants to ‘deeply apologise for anyone who thinks we have some other kind of motivation.’

Apple will not recommend users disable performance throttling, as it may mean that they will not be able to use their device in emergency situations.

The new setting will let users have this choice, however, at the risk of increasing the chances of their device crashing.

Speaking to ABC News, Cook said: ‘If you don’t want it, you can turn it off.

‘We’re going to give people the visibility of the health of their battery so it’s very, very transparent.

‘This hasn’t been done before.’

Angry iPhone fans who want to replace their batteries completely will have to wait until March, however, despite promises from Apple to offer this option.

Apple formerly announced it was reducing the price of an out-of-warranty iPhone battery replacement for anyone with an iPhone 6 or later from January to December 2018.

Prices were cut from $79 (£79) to $29 (£25).

Apple intends to replace the power packs even if the devices passed Apple’s Genius Bar diagnostic test, according to an internal memo.

But customers took to social media in recent weeks to express their horror at being told the firm had run out of stock and won’t be getting more batteries in for at least two months.

News of the delay first emerged from internal documents distributed to Apple Stores and Apple authorised service providers.

Batteries for the iPhone 6+ were in particularly short supply, with a wait of ‘approximately two weeks’ anticipated for replacement batteries for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s Plus, according to reports in MacRumours.

Batteries for other models like the iPhone 6s, iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, and iPhone SE are expected to be available ‘without extended delays’ in most countries, the paperwork stated.

This may vary from country to country, with wait times expected to vary in some regions, particularly the Middle East, Africa, Latin America, Russia, and Turkey.

Customers in the US and UK began reporting being told about the delay by staff at Apple Stores in early January.

Apple issued an unprecedented apology in December 2017, following its admission that it slows down older iPhones to save battery life.

An internal memo stated customers should receive a battery for $29 (£25), whether or not a diagnostic test proves it can retain more than 80 per cent of its original capacity.

It comes as the firm faces several lawsuits from customers in states including California, New York and Illinois, as well as customers in Israel and France.

The concession was made two weeks after the firm admitted it ‘throttles’ phones to extend their life and stop them from shutting down as batteries age and become less effective, triggering lawsuits across the world.

The company published a letter saying ‘We know that some of you feel Apple has let you down’, and revealed it is planning to show users exactly how much their battery has degraded.

A report by French website iGeneration suggests that Apple will replace batteries even if they pass their diagnostics test.

Apple users can run a diagnostics test remotely so you don’t need to visit an Apple store. To initiate this, contact the firm or schedule an appointment using the Apple Support App.

Reports suggest customers who paid to have their batteries replaced before the announcement are eligible for a refund on request.

Earlier models such as 5, 5S and 5C are not covered.

‘We apologize. There’s been a lot of misunderstanding about this issue, so we would like to clarify and let you know about some changes we’re making’, the company said in its December statement.

‘First and foremost, we have never — and would never — do anything to intentionally shorten the life of any Apple product, or degrade the user experience to drive customer upgrades,’ Apple said.

‘Our goal has always been to create products that our customers love, and making iPhones last as long as possible is an important part of that.’

South Korea‘s Communications Commission has reportedly asked for an explanation of the issue from Apple, while in France a consumer group has filed preliminary, legal complaints in court.

‘We are hoping to get some answers on whether Apple intentionally restricted the performance of old iPhones and tried to hide this from customers,’ the Korean Commission said.

French consumer association called ‘HOP’, standing for ‘Stop Planned Obsolescence’, filed preliminary, legal complaints in court against Apple and Epson.

HOP said it filed its complaint against Apple in Paris in late December.

A prosecutor opened an investigation into Epson in November, a judicial source said on Thursday, following a complaint filed in September by HOP in a court in the Paris suburb of Nanterre.

Laetitia Vasseur, co-founder of HOP, told Reuters the aim of both complaints was to apply the French consumer law, which was modified in 2015 to include the notion of planned obsolescence.

Apple is already facing lawsuits in the United States over accusations of having defrauded iPhone users by slowing down devices without warning to compensate for poor battery performance.

Under French law, companies risk fines of up to five per cent of their annual sales for deliberately shortening the life of their products to spur demand to replace them.

All the US lawsuits – filed in U.S. District Courts in California, New York and Illinois – seek class-action to represent potentially millions of iPhone owners nationwide.

A similar case was lodged in an Israeli court, the newspaper Haaretz reported.

One of the lawsuits, filed in San Francisco, said that ‘the batteries’ inability to handle the demand created by processor speeds’ without the software patch was a defect.

‘Rather than curing the battery defect by providing a free battery replacement for all affected iPhones, Apple sought to mask the battery defect,’ according to the complaint.

The problem now seen is that users over the last year could have blamed an raging computer processor for app crashes and sluggish performance – and chose to buy a new phone – when the true cause may have been a weak battery that could have been replaced for a fraction of the cost, some of the lawsuits state.

‘If it turns out that consumers would have replaced their battery instead of buying new iPhones had they known the true nature of Apple’s upgrades, you might start to have a better case for some sort of misrepresentation or fraud,’ said Rory Van Loo, a Boston University professor specializing in consumer technology law.

But Chris Hoofnagle, faculty director for the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology, said in an email that Apple may not have done wrong.

‘We still haven’t come to consumer protection norms’ around aging products, Hoofnagle said.

Pointing to a device with a security flaw as an example, he said, ‘the ethical approach could include degrading or even disabling functionality.’

The lawsuits seek unspecified damages in addition to, in some cases, reimbursement.

A couple of the complaints seek court orders barring Apple from throttling iPhone computer speeds or requiring notification in future instances.

Stefan Bogdanovich and Dakota Speas from Los Angeles have filed a lawsuit with the US District Court for the Central District of California.

They are accusing Apple of interfering with their devices without consent.

The pair are trying to get the case certified to cover all people in the United States who owned an Apple phone older than the iPhone 8.

Their application for the lawsuit states: ‘Plaintiffs and Class Members never consented to allow Defendants to slow their iPhones.

‘As a result of Defendant’s wrongful actions, Plaintiffs and Class Members had their phone slowed down, and thereby it interfered with Plaintiffs’ and Class Members’ use or possession of their iPhones.’

A second lawsuit, filed by five plaintiffs in the Northern District of the State of Illinois, accuses Apple of deliberately keeping its power management features under wraps to persuade people to upgrade to newer devices.

‘Apple’s iOS updates purposefully neglected to explain that its purposeful throttling down of older model devices and resulting lost or diminished operating performance could be remedied by replacing the batteries of these devices,’ the lawsuit states.

‘Instead, Apple’s decision to purposefully slowdown or throttle down these devices was undertaken to fraudulently induce consumers to purchase the latest iPhone versions of the iPhone 7, as well as new phones such as the iPhone 8 and iPhone X .’

In a statement sent to MailOnline, a spokesman for Apple said: ‘Our goal is to deliver the best experience for customers, which includes overall performance and prolonging the life of their devices.

‘Lithium-ion batteries become less capable of supplying peak current demands when in cold conditions, have a low battery charge or as they age over time, which can result in the device unexpectedly shutting down to protect its electronic components.

‘We released a feature for iPhone 6, iPhone 6s and iPhone SE to smooth out the instantaneous peaks only when needed to prevent the device from unexpectedly shutting down during these conditions.

‘We’ve now extended that feature to iPhone 7 with iOS 11.2, and plan to add support for other products in the future.’

 

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227 COMMENTS

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