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Apple is dropping its battery life estimate on Macs

The latest macOS update is as much about what it takes away as what it adds.
Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
December 13, 2016
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You probably don't trust your laptop's battery life estimates, and that's especially true if you happen to own the latest MacBook Pro. It's supposed to last for up to 10 hours, but the estimated time can vary wildly depending on what's running at any given moment. Apple has a very simple solution to that: get rid of the estimate entirely. The company has released macOS Sierra 10.12.2, which ditches the "time remaining" display from the menu bar. That's not so hot if you depend on that figure to determine when you'll need to recharge, but our TechCrunch colleagues understand that this might be necessary given evolving technology.

Reportedly, Apple has double-checked battery life on real-world MacBook Pros and believes that the battery is behaving properly. The problem stems from a combination of both modern Intel processors with the very nature of battery life estimates. An operating system can only calculate battery life based on what's happening at any given moment, which is a problem when the Skylake-based chips in the new MacBook Pros have rapidly changing power states. You may be getting solid battery life in practice, but you won't see that in the estimate if the processor is running at full tilt when you're checking the menu bar.

There are other changes and fixes coming with this update. It tackles a serious graphics bug with newer MacBook Pros that triggered "visual artifacts," to start with. Also, it's clearer about what happens when you use iCloud storage syncing (which backs up your desktop and Documents folders) or Optimize Storage (removing files when backed up to iCloud) so that you're not alarmed when files seemingly disappear. You should also see improved Bluetooth audio when using FaceTime or Siri, a better Auto Unlock experience and support for new installs of Windows 7 and 8 using Boot Camp. In short: even if you're on a desktop Mac and don't care about battery life, there are quite a few reasons to update.

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