After the new MacBook Pro came out in October, a number of users complained about the device’s battery life. Apple advertises 10 hours of battery life for all new models — the 13-inch Pro without a Touch Bar, as well as the 13- and 15-inch Pros with a Touch Bar — but some users aren’t getting anywhere near that figure.
Now, with the new version of macOS, Sierra 10.12.2, Apple has a solution: The company decided to remove the "time remaining" estimate from the battery drop down menu in the menu bar.
Nothing has replaced the "time remaining" estimate; users are simply expected to rely on the battery life percentage, which is still visible in the menu bar.
Image: Stan Schroeder/Mashable
You won’t see this in the latest version of macOS, Sierra 10.12.2.
The change — although not insignificant, especially given the complaints about MacBook battery life — is not mentioned in the official release notes for Sierra 10.12.2. We’ve contacted Apple for clarification, but have not yet heard from them.
9to5Mac says, quoting sources familiar with Apple’s internal investigation of the matter, that the reason for Apple removing the feature is that it’s, simply put, inaccurate. The new Intel processors Apple is using, switch from low- to high-performance modes often, making the "time remaining" estimate inaccurate.
But some users aren’t satisfied with that explanation. Programmer Marco Arment writes in a blog post that even though his 15-inch MacBook Pro doesn’t tell him how much battery life he has left anymore, that still doesn’t change the fact that it lasts significantly less than the 10 hours Apple has promised. He also claims that the estimate, in his case, quite accurately predicted just how quickly the battery would drain on his Pro.
And while it’s certainly possible that inaccurate battery life estimates have been responsible for some users’ complaints about the new MacBook Pros, the feature has been around for more than a decade. It was never perfectly accurate, but it was useful; it’s hard to imagine that, after all this time, it was so beyond repair that it had to be removed instead of fixed or improved.
The nature of this change — a simple software trick that doesn’t change the way something works, only the way it’s represented to the user — reminds us of the iPhone 4’s "antennagate" issues. When the iPhone 4 came out, a significant number of users complained about the device having poor reception, which Apple fixed by launching a software update which merely changed the way signal strength was displayed on the iPhone.
It’s worth noting that in our review of both the Touch Bar and the "escape edition" MacBook Pro, battery life was just fine and in line with Apple’s advertised 10 hours. Furthermore, usage patterns vary wildly for different users; some will inevitably get more battery life out of their MacBooks than others. For users who are reporting five hours of battery life or less, however, the way Apple has handled the issues might prove unsatisfactory.
MacOS Sierra 10.12.2 was released Tuesday. Besides the removal of the battery life estimate, it has a number of improvements and fixes; read about them here.