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Apple: Yep, iPhones do slow down, but for a good reason

Smoothing the surges

Following that post on Geekbench that appeared to show Apple iPhones were throttling performance as battery life decreased, Apple has confirmed that the phones do indeed slow down in order to remain functional as the batteries age. In a response to an informational request by The Verge, Apple said that the lithium-ion batteries become less able to supply a surge of needed power as they ago, which made some phones suddenly turn off.

To fix that, Apple installed a bit of code in the phones – originally in the iPhone 6, 6S and SE – to “smooth out” the peak power demand by essentially throttling the phones’ performance, or by spreading out the power demand. That solved the sudden shut-off problem, and Apple then expanded the tactic to the iPhone 7, which is now two generations old. And again, to restore full performance, the simple solution is to just replace the battery. But that’s not always cheap or easy to do.

Basically, Apple says they did what they had to do in order to keep the phones working, so the question now is: What is a legitimate lifetime for a smartphone battery, which has one of the hardest jobs in tech: running our seemingly always-on, always-in-use smartphones for the better part of a day. Is it a year? Two years? More?

To Apple’s credit, an iPhone will give you a notification when the battery is in really bad shape, and for the most part, most people never even know their phone has slowed down at all. But clearly, some do. There are, of course, apps out there that monitor the health of your phone battery, and we have links and more details on the story.

But can it also make toast?

We’ve got a cool story on a possible high-tech future for something we all do: take pills. For many people, taking medication is a daily ritual that lets them have productive lives despite health issues. Only problem is, sometimes that involves a lot of pills. So what if all your daily medications could be custom-made into one pill, or maybe just two? That’s what a Rhode Island startup wants to do by 3D printing customized medication – including customized dosages.

And one of the best parts is, they’re not going to do the printing, consumers are, using the toaster-sized printer from Vitae Industries. According to the company, the $5,000 “AutoCompounder” 3D printer can print up your customized pill in about 10 minutes, right in your home. It’s connected, of course, to your pharmacist, who will control dosages and scheduling.  They hope to start test trials early next year.

Marketing tie-in score: 100

Elon Musk’s SpaceX rocket company just landed their 20th rocket, which helped deliver supplies to the ISS. The rocket and capsule had both been used before, meaning SpaceX spent a lot less on this mission, which, of course, is the goal for re-usable rocket gear. But the big news is the impending launch of the Falcon Heavy, Musk’s monster rocket that will be the next step in SpaceX’s long-term goal of powering missions out of Earth orbit, with Mars as the ultimate goal.

Musk tweeted out some photos of the Falcon Heavy coming together in a huge hanger, where SpaceX team members are putting the final touches on the rocket, which will be powered by 27 engines. The payload for the test launch, which is expected to take place in January, will be a Tesla Roadster, tucked up into the spacecraft’s nosecone. Musk has said he doesn’t expect the launch to be a success, which makes us a little bit sad, but you can bet we’ll be watching.

If the launch does as planned, however, SpaceX will try to land the three booster sections back on Earth at the same time, and Musk’s instantly famous Space Roadster will head out on an epic road trip: Around the sun as it heads to Mars orbit.

We’ve got more news on our Facebook page and YouTube channel, and be sure to tune in to this week’s DT podcasts: Trends with Benefits (general tech shenanigans)  on Thursdays, and Between the Streams (movie and TV topics) every Friday.

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