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Your MacBook’s battery could last longer thanks to a MacOS update

Apple is planning an update to its MacOS Catalina operating system that could potentially allow the battery in your MacBook Air and MacBook Pro to last longer. The update brings a new feature called Battery Health Management that is currently in testing by developers. And if all goes according to plan, the new MacOS 10.15.5 update will make onto a Mac near you before the end of the year, according to CNET.

Rather than monitor how app usage can affect battery life in between charges, Apple’s goal with Battery Health Management is to take into account your charging patterns and the heat levels generated by the battery to help extend its useful life cycle. The aim is to reduce battery aging over time.

If all this sounds familiar, it’s because it is. Apple had implemented similar power maintenance inside its smartphone software, and iOS comes with a feature called Optimized Battery Charging intended to reduce chemical aging of the iPhone’s battery. The downside with this feature, however, is that as a battery ages, Apple’s software can throttle performance of the smartphone to help lengthen the useful lifespan. After facing backlash, Apple began allowing people to disable performance throttling.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Apple’s focus on battery health, whether on a smartphone, tablet, or laptop, is noteworthy, given that the company has shifted to using sealed batteries that are not easily replaced by the average person. Typically, most newer Mac laptops have an average of 1,000 charge cycles, where a charge cycle is measured by the process of charging your battery to 100% and using it down to zero. Apple states in its one-year warranty policy that it will replace the battery at no cost to you if it retains less than 80% of the original capacity.

With Apple’s stated battery life between charges of 10 hours, if you go through a single charge cycle per day, the battery on your laptop should hold up for approximately three years. With the new Battery Health Management feature, smarter software algorithms designed to optimize charging can further extend the life of your battery, saving you money in dealing with battery replacements while also helping to reduce electronic waste in the environment.

The feature will be available to any Mac laptop that is equipped with a Thunderbolt 3 ports, which leaves out the now discontinued 12-inch MacBook line. Developers can grab the update immediately if they’re part of Apple’s MacOS developer program, with public betas arriving at a later date.

After the update, the feature will be enabled by default, though, like on iOS, users can turn off Battery Health Management if they desire. Apple has not given a date on when MacOS 10.15.5 will be out of beta, but it should land before the end of the year.

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Chuong Nguyen
Silicon Valley-based technology reporter and Giants baseball fan who splits his time between Northern California and Southern…
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