Recently, Senator John Thune (R-SD) queried Apple in relation to the company’s decision to throttle iOS on older iPhones, and Apple has subsequently replied to the senator in a letter sent to the United States Senate.
That letter has already offered up important details regarding the ongoing debacle for Apple, including that the company is considering offering rebates for customers who paid full price for iPhone batteries, and that “hardware updates” in newer iPhone models may address battery issues. And now, as revealed by Stephen Nellis via Twitter today, Apple has also commented on its lack of earnestness to disclose the throttling situation to consumers.
Apple introduced the throttling feature with iOS 10.2.1 in early 2017. January, to be specific. However, it wasn’t until February of the same year that Apple actually said anything about it. And, when it did, the language was brief, and simply stated that the software update included “improvements to reduce occurrences of unexpected shutdowns”. At the time, the random shutdown issue was basically targeted to the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s, but it was subsequently discovered that the same software was also present in iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus models, too.
The letter that the aforementioned Senator sent to Apple aimed to get several different questions answered, including why Apple released the software in January, but waited until February to discuss it in any capacity. Apple says it waited because it had to determine whether or not the software feature would actually work or not.
This is Apple’s statement, as per the image Nellis shared on Twitter:
Here is the language Apple used to explain to the U.S. Senate why it issued a software update that slowed phones with battery problems in January 2017 but did not disclose the updates power management effects until Feb 2017. pic.twitter.com/yCnPx9L91m
— Stephen Nellis (@StephenNellis) February 6, 2018
Apple, for its part, said this back in February of this year:
“With iOS 10.2.1, Apple made improvements to reduce occurrences of unexpected shutdowns that a small number of users were experiencing with their iPhone. iOS 10.2.1 already has over 50% of active iOS devices upgraded and the diagnostic data we’ve received from upgraders shows that for this small percentage of users experiencing the issue, we’re seeing a more than 80% reduction in iPhone 6s and over 70% reduction on iPhone 6 of devices unexpectedly shutting down.
We also added the ability for the phone to restart without needing to connect to power, if a user still encounters an unexpected shutdown. It is important to note that these unexpected shutdowns are not a safety issue, but we understand it can be an inconvenience and wanted to fix the issue as quickly as possible. If a customer has any issues with their device they can contact AppleCare.”
Apple went under fire in the tail-end of 2017 because it was discovered in the last month of the year how Apple actually throttled iOS to help mitigate random shutdowns, while also trying to reduce stress on aging batteries. The fallout has been severe up to this point, with Apple offering reduced-priced battery replacements, and also including a new “Battery Health” feature in iOS 11.3.
One has to imagine that Apple is hoping this whole situation gets forgotten about soon. I can understand where Apple was coming from, trying to address the random shutdown issue, but the way they handled it wasn’t great by any means, and the fallout has been deserved. It’s good that Apple is trying to fix it, especially with the new support page addressing the issue, but this is something they should have done right out of the gate, back in January of last year.