Last week, Apple released the latest version of the iOS 16 beta, and it almost broke the internet. That’s obviously a bit of an exaggeration, but it definitely seemed like it if you factored in the reaction online.
That’s because Apple put back the battery percentage indicator in the status bar five years after it disappeared. If that doesn’t seem controversial to you, it’s probably because you don’t care about beta software and don’t spend all your time on Twitter – both of which are perfectly normal ways to live your life.
Even if that’s the case, you should care about the change because it’s going to make your life so much better. First, though, I should mention that since this is a beta version of iOS, Apple can still make changes or choose not to include the new design at all. I hope it does because it is so much better than the current version.
First, let me just say that if Apple includes the new version exactly as it is in the public release this fall, a lot of people are going to have strong feelings. It’s definitely different, and for the beta, Apple just turned it on for everyone (you can turn it off under Settings > Battery > Battery Percentage).
Of course, some of you are thinking “what’s all the fuss, my iPhone has the percentage on the screen?” If that’s you, it’s because you’re still rocking an iPhone 8 or earlier, or have one of the newer iPhone SE models.
The reason it disappeared on newer iPhones is quite simple. When Apple switched to the iPhone X design with a notch, it lost real estate at the top of the screen for the status bar. Now whatever it wants to show you has to fit into the two smaller “ears” on either side of the camera and Face ID sensors. So Apple has just switched to showing an icon that should give you a visual representation of how much battery is left.
I had no idea how bad this design was until I saw the beta version on my own iPhone. However, the best part of the change isn’t that the percentage is back, it’s the way Apple incorporated it into the status bar.
Under the current design in iOS 15, the battery icon appears to slowly drain over time as the battery drains. The new version is simply a numerical indicator of remaining battery percentage, inside a battery-shaped icon that is fully filled. The key is that the background of the battery icon does not change – it is always filled.
If you get below 20 percent, the indicator changes colors, but it looks “full” if you will. For someone (like me) who gets battery anxiety, this is so much less stressful. I say this as someone who has unfollowed people on Twitter because they post screenshots of their iPhone that happens to have less than 20 percent battery left.
In fact, I wasn’t sure I really needed a more obvious reminder that all batteries eventually die. The thing is, this new design has the opposite effect.
Here’s why I love this: It gives you the information without the anxiety. If you want to know your battery percentage, you can have that information without the visual image that your battery and – therefore your device – is slowly dying.
There are obviously very good reasons why you might want to know how long your battery life is. You may be traveling. You may be on your way to work and notice that you forget to connect your iPhone the night before. You might be on your way to a kids soccer game after work where you want to take videos and photos and need to know if you should charge first.
It doesn’t matter why you want to know how much charge is left, the point is that you should be able to get that information without causing anxiety every time you look at your phone. Now you finally can.