You might be surprised to know that the estimated time remaining for your battery life isn’t an exact science. Aside from the fact that it’s called “estimated” in the first place, it usually doesn’t take into account the myriad and inconsistent ways we use our phones until their dying breath. That is why Google is introducing some changes to the way it calculates the Pixel phones’ remaining hours so that you will know when to stop watching cat videos on YouTube if you want to make it home with 5%.
The most direct, and current, way battery life estimates are calculated is to take the average battery use per hour and then estimate how many hours are left given the remaining battery charge. If you’ve been sipping 5% battery per hour for the past few hours and now only have 25% left, Android will tell you that you have at most 5 hours left.
That is simple, straightforward, and woefully inaccurate. Never mind the fact that we each use our phones differently. We also use them differently at different hours of the day and on different days of the week. Fortunately, Google is the master of algorithms and machine learning and has put that to use to make battery guesses smarter.
What the Pixel will do is to sample your battery usage over similar days and times, sort of like establishing a pattern. If you happen to do most of your cat video binging on the commute home, then it will know that you’ll eat up more than just 5% within that hour and adjust the calculation accordingly. No more running on empty in the middle of a heart-warming meow.
It is admittedly a small change that could make a huge difference for the user. Hopefully, it is also a change that will make it beyond the Pixel borders.