Concern or sometimes even obsession over battery life sometimes nurtures habits that ironically degrade battery capacity over time. While devices today are smart enough not to overcharge, some practices like keeping the battery at 100% for a long time will eventually kill the battery anyway. That’s true for laptops and smartphones but it is also true for the tiny earbuds some wear day in and day out. That’s why Apple is apparently rolling out in iOS 14 optimized charging to extend the longevity of its smallest smart products.
The batteries that give life to our very important devices are volatile and almost too fickle. People tend to take them for granted but it is one of the things that actually needs the most care and attention in a device. Charge it too much and boom it goes. Keep it fully charged too long and it actually starts to lose its capacity to hold that charge.
That’s where the idea of optimized or intelligent battery charging comes in. The basic idea is to hold off filling the battery to 100% and keeping it at around 80% even while connected to a charger. Only when you’re about actually use the phone will it suddenly boost it all the way up to 100%.
That, of course, presumes the charging system knows when to start going from 80% to 100%, usually just a few minutes before you wake up for those who charge their phones overnight. That requires tracking the user’s charging habits over time to make such decisions and that’s exactly what Optimized Charging is about.
Apple introduced this feature for iPhones and iPads in the iOS 13 release last year. Now it’s bringing the same intelligence to AirPods starting iOS 14. It’s a small change for such a small battery but, considering how almost impossible it is to replace that battery, it can make a huge difference in prolonging the AirPods’ lifespan.