Apple has been hailed for championing simplicity and minimalism but, at the same time, also accused of “dumbing” things down because users will be too confused. The latest macOS Sierra maintenance update, version 10.12.2, will probably be remembered for the latter. Together with the dozens of fixes for actual issues and security holes, Apple silently sneaked in, or rather out, one more. Much to some users’ exasperation, Apple has removed the “Time Remaining” indicator from the battery applet. Apple’s reason? It’s not exactly accurate and, therefore, confusing
To be fair, there is a ring of truth to Apple’s justification. The time remaining value has always been an estimate, extrapolated from the actual remaining amount of battery and the amount of current computer activity. That activity, however, can be varied and can change any minute and modern processors change power states quickly in turn. Thus, it makes it extremely difficult to accurately convey that piece of information without potentially misleading users.
While technically plausible, Apple’s timing can perhaps be held suspect. There has been a rash of complaints recently regarding the late 2016 MacBook Pro’s less than impressive battery life. Users have reported getting less than the advertised 10 hours of battery life. Apple insists there is no bug or problem and that the real culprit is how owners use their MacBooks. The more you tax these machines, the shorter they last. And since that perception of shorter lives is based on that Time Remaining estimate, Apple deigned it better to remove the confusing piece of information instead.
That said, macOS still does compute that estimate, regardless. The OS’ activity monitor still presents that piece of information, making it possible for third-party software to still make it easily visible to users. So, in a nutshell, macOS 10.12.2 still calculates the potentially inaccurate Time Remaining number. It just doesn’t make it immediately visible to users.
Amusingly enough, users are equally divided on the issue. Some have taken to Apple’s defense, arguing the technical merits of the company’s reasoning. Others, however, feel that Apple might simply be trying to sweep the real problem under the rug.