macOS Sierra 10.12.2 battery time remaining indicator

Aside from a number of fixes, GPU improvements and a few new features in macOS Sierra 10.12.2, the update’s introduced a significant change related to the Mac’s Battery menu. Long story short, Macs with macOS Sierra 10.12.2 or later no longer display the battery’s estimated time remaining in the Mac’s menu bar.

Here’s what prompted Apple to make this change, according to The Loop.

Just to be clear before we get to it, a percentage of the remaining battery life is still being shown in the latest Sierra update, like on your iOS devices.

TL;DR: you no longer see how much time is remaining before your battery dies because the time remaining indicator wasn’t very accurate to begin with.

After speaking with his Apple contacts, The Loop’s Jim Dalrymple was told that the indicator couldn’t accurately keep up with what people were doing “because of the dynamic ways we use our Macs”.

In other words, a bunch of processes which often run in the background that most user might not even know about contribute to the inaccuracies. In order to avoid scenarios where users are unaware of what’s draining their battery, Apple’s decided to remove the time remaining indicator.

Here are some of the Mac features that cause inaccuracies in your battery’s time remaining indicator:

  • iCloud syncing—the Memories feature, facial, object and scene recognition, as well as the initial sync after setting up a new Mac, all happen in the background and affect the battery severely. iCloud syncing issues are even more pronounced when you factor in the new Optimized Storage feature that can free up storage space by uploading your rarely used files to iCloud Drive.
  • Spotlight indexing—Spotlight constantly runs in the background and monitors any changes to the files on your Mac’s drives. Plus, initial Spotlight indexing after setting up a new Mac can monopolize resources and take a long time to complete, too.
  • Apps—Apps you use on your Mac, of course, may contribute to the inaccuracies.

“Everything we do on the MacBook affects battery life in different ways and not having an accurate indicator is confusing,” said Dalrymple. I know it’s all about user experience, but I’d still rather Apple added a switch to let us optionally enable the battery’s time remaining indicator, inaccuracies be damned.

Back in the iPhone 4 days, Apple released an iOS update which tweaked the cellular signal strength bar, saying people were seeing more-dramatic-than-usual drops in signal strength because an underlying algorithm had a flaw.

As for the problems with battery life that some new MacBook Pro owners complained about, Apple told Dalrymple that “after a lot of testing” they stand behind the advertised ten-hour battery life when browsing the web or watching iTunes movies.

If you just set up your brand spanking new Mac, any decrease in battery performance and speed can be probably chalked up to initial iCloud sync and Spotlight indexing. After these processes have completed, which can take from a few hours to a couple of days, your battery life should normalize.

Source: The Loop