Apple Responds to Govt. Probe, Begins Testing Battery Reservations

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Apple this week seems to be taking additional steps to mitigate the so-called “Batterygate” controversy that followed its admittal of throttling older iPhones.

Battery Reservations

Since the iOS device throttling mechanism only kicks in when an iPhone’s battery is aging or degraded, the easiest way to circumvent the measure (currently) is to simply replace a device’s battery.

In the wake of consumer outrage after its iPhone slowdown announcement, Apple apologized and began offering discounted replacement batteries for $29 — down from the usual $79.

Of course, with the sharp increase in service orders and the constrained stock of batteries, many users have had trouble trying to get their own batteries replaced. For certain models of iPhone, Apple has simply run out of replacement parts.

But on Wednesday, Apple is seemingly taking steps to make the process easier. The Cupertino tech giant has added a “Reserve a Battery” option to its support website in Canada. The feature will let users reserve a battery online. Apple will then contact those users when a battery for their device becomes available.

How to Reserve a Battery

  • Early reports seem to indicate that the option is only available in Canada currently, which may hint that the country is being used as a trial run. Apple may choose to expand battery reservations to other regions in the future.
  • Users in Canada can find the page by going to Apple’s Get Support webpage, logging in with their Apple ID, and selecting Battery, Power, and Charging > Battery Replacement > Reserve a Battery.
  • The battery reservations are also available to Canadian users via the Apple Support app.
  • Apple promises to contact users within three to five days to let them know when a battery will be available. Currently, Apple’s Canadian website lists a wait time estimate of two to four weeks.

DoJ, SEC Probe

In addition to the battery reservation feature, Apple also confirmed a U.S. government investigation into “Batterygate” in a public statement on Wednesday.

Earlier this week, Bloomberg reported that the U.S. Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission had launched a probe to determine whether Apple broke federal law in its disclosure of iPhone throttling.

In the statement, provided to Axios, Apple wrote that its intention with the throttling measure was to “improve the customer experience.” The iPhone slowdown mechanism was implemented to reduce the chance of random reboots or other issues when a device’s battery is degraded.

“We have never — and would never — do anything to intentionally shorten the life of any Apple product, or degrade the user experience to drive customer upgrades,” Apple wrote. “We have received questions from some government agencies and we are responding to them.”

iOS 11.3 Power Management Toggle

In the statement, Apple also doubled-down on the timing for its promised power management toggle.

The feature, which will let users turn off the iPhone throttling, is expected to be implemented for iPhone 6 through iPhone 7 Plus in iOS 11.3. Of course, users who do choose to turn throttling off might see more random reboots as a result.

The toggle will be featured in a future iOS 11.3 beta this month. The final release of iOS 11.3 will roll out as a free update to all users later this spring, Apple said.

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