Oh Apple, you really need to rethink how you do things

Quietly inserting code into iOS that measurably slows down the performance of older iPhones is a monumentally boneheaded blunder.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor

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The ink is barely dry on the piece I wrote earlier this week -- about how Apple needs to do better in 2017 -- when it comes to light that the company has done another boneheaded thing.

Must read: Apple seems to have forgotten about the whole 'it just works' thing

It now turns out the old-yet-often-quoted urban legend that Apple inserts code into iOS to slow down older iPhones is true.

Yes, Apple is slowing down your old iPhone.

The company admitted yesterday that it started doing it last year, when it released iOS 10.2.1, following reports that iPhone 6, iPhone 6s, and iPhone SE were shutting down randomly due to cold weather, low battery charge, or battery aging.

Apple expanded the scope of this code to include iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus devices with the release of iOS 11.2.

Oh, Apple, this is a terrible way to do business. This is like the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth buttons in Control Center that don't actually turn off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, only a hundred times worse.

While I think that adding code to iOS that caters for battery issues is clever, not telling users that this is happening is something that categorically gets the Cupertino giant onto Santa's naughty list for several reasons:

  • It makes owners believe that their iPhones are getting old when it is, in fact, the code that's slowing them down.
  • It's pushing people to replace handsets when all they need is a new battery.
  • It's a serious betrayal of the trust that needs to exist between vendors and customers, and it stories like this will make people wary of installing updates, which is a bad thing.

So, how could Apple have turned this boneheaded move into a positive thing? By keeping the user in the loop. For example:

  • A pop-up message telling the user that there is a suspected battery problem, and iOS is stepping in to prevent possible problems.
  • Suggest the owner get the battery checked and replaced.
  • Offer users a way to disable the setting so they can see for themselves that there's a problem.

See, that wasn't so hard, was it?

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