Apple caused quite a stir when it became clear that the company was intentionally slowing some phones to compensate for aging batteries. The fallout from that revelation was rather wide reaching – not only did Apple end up discounting battery replacement charges for many iPhone models for a year, but it also added a toggle to iOS that allows users to decide for themselves if they want their phone’s speed throttled to make up for their worn down batteries.
Now, however, Apple will be taking things one step further, at least in the UK. Today, the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority announced that from now on, Apple will alert users when a planned software update is expected to slow their phones.
Apple already shows battery health metrics in iOS, but in a statement today, the CMA said that this “locks the firm into formal commitments,” to notify users when software updates may impact performance management. The CMA also notes that if Apple breaches this agreement, it may take action through UK courts, something Apple probably doesn’t want.
The CMA says that it initially raised concerns because it feared that people may have tried to repair or replace their phones without knowing that software was to blame for the slowdown in older handsets. By notifying users of potential slowdowns ahead of time, the CMA hopes that consumers will ultimately save money by being able to simply replace their batteries, toggle low-power mode, or avoid the update altogether.
So, even though the road that got us here was long and at times infuriating, it seems that at least some good has come out of this discovery that Apple was throttling phones to save battery life. Since Apple reached this agreement with a UK agency, it’s probably safe to assume that we won’t be getting those software update notifications here in the US. Still, Apple may surprise us, so we’ll be keeping an eye out for more information nevertheless.