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Businesses Government Iphone Apple Hardware

Senator Wants Apple To Answer Questions on Slowing iPhones (reuters.com) 169

The chairman of a U.S. Senate committee overseeing business issues asked Apple to answer questions about its disclosure that it slowed older iPhones with flagging batteries, Reuters reported on Wednesday, citing a letter. From the report: The California-based company apologized over the issue on Dec. 28, cut battery replacement costs and said it will change its software to show users whether their phone battery is good. Senator John Thune, a Republican who chairs the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, said in a Jan. 9 letter to Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook that "the large volume of consumer criticism leveled against the company in light of its admission suggests that there should have been better transparency."
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Senator Wants Apple To Answer Questions on Slowing iPhones

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  • what about not helping the FBI as well?

    • by unixcorn ( 120825 ) on Wednesday January 10, 2018 @11:00AM (#55900503)

      I think you mean to say that the Senator should thank Apple for not letting it's customers down by capitulating to government pressure to provide a back door. A door that hackers would certainly find and exploit in order to steal our personal data. A door that could be used by law enforcement without a warrant. I applaud Apple for standing up for personal liberties, even if it makes it tougher on law enforcement.

    • what about not helping the FBI as well?

      They already excoriated Apple for standing up for our privacy rights, remember?

  • Senator wants Apple to donate to its campaign funds. You know, to resolve the "issues" that they may have due to "consumer criticism"

    • Senator wants Apple to donate to its campaign funds. You know, to resolve the "issues" that they may have due to "consumer criticism"

      I doubt it.. His seat isn't up for election for at least 4 more years, is a 3 time incumbent and he won his last election by 40 points... He's in no danger of losing his seat...

      • by ZiakII ( 829432 )
        fuck me clicked Overrated in the mod dropdown... posting to remove bad mod
      • Unless he's looking to pad his bank account for retirement. Maybe looking for a cushy seven figure "Lobbyist" job in 4 years.
  • Overblown (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Dan East ( 318230 ) on Wednesday January 10, 2018 @11:00AM (#55900499) Journal

    I'm not an Apple fanboi... really I'm not. I have an iPhone, but won't use their overpriced Macbooks because of Apple's draconian design decisions. Having said that, I really do not see what the issue is here. We know lithium ion batteries degrade with use. I (and I think most people) want their phones to last through the entire day. Besides making the display dimmer, which really isn't much of an option, slowing the CPU to reduce power consumption is one of the only viable methods available through software to preserve the operating time throughout the lifetime of the phone. Should Apple have made this a user controlled option? Sure. In fact, Apple could have had the phone show some message "Your battery needs replaced - your phone only has 75% of the capacity from when it was new" and could have made a lot of money off of people replacing their batteries.

    I do not think that the devices are slowed to make them unusable so people would buy new phones. Having a totally dead phone after 8 hours instead of 12 hours is worse, in my opinion.

    • Re:Overblown (Score:5, Interesting)

      by rhsanborn ( 773855 ) on Wednesday January 10, 2018 @11:46AM (#55900865)
      I also don't think this change was just to make the batteries last the full day. It was also to address an issue where the device was requesting more power than the degraded batteries could provide and was causing unexpected shutdowns. I know of several people with older iPhones that random turn off. It sounds like this could have been the problem.

      Fanboy or no, Apple likes repeat customers, and phones becoming useless garbage doesn't help retention. They didn't slow down their phones to make people buy new phones. They add features that are only available on new phones to do that. Intentionally making old phones not work drives people to other manufacturers. We can safely remove the tinfoil hats for a minute.
      • I also don't think this change was just to make the batteries last the full day. It was also to address an issue where the device was requesting more power than the degraded batteries could provide and was causing unexpected shutdowns. I know of several people with older iPhones that random turn off. It sounds like this could have been the problem.
        Exactly.

        Fanboy or no, Apple likes repeat customers, and phones becoming useless garbage doesn't help retention. They didn't slow down their phones to make people buy new phones. They add features that are only available on new phones to do that. Intentionally making old phones not work drives people to other manufacturers. We can safely remove the tinfoil hats for a minute.

      • They didn't slow down their phones to make people buy new phones.

        Based on their iOS release history, that would be a literal first. The last supported version on iOS on any phone is one that uses way more resources than the phone can provide. That's been true going back almost their entire history. If you know it's the last iOS release for that model, do not upgrade.

    • by nasch ( 598556 )

      I think the issue is mainly not telling anyone what they were doing. If they had announced what they were doing and why, there would have been some grumbling but probably nothing like the outrage we're seeing now.

      • I think the issue is mainly not telling anyone what they were doing. If they had announced what they were doing and why, there would have been some grumbling but probably nothing like the outrage we're seeing now.

        Wanna bet?

        You must be new to the internets...

        • by nasch ( 598556 )

          Of course people would be screaming on internet forums. That happens every day no matter what. I'm talking about protracted national news coverage, expensive remedies, public apologies, Senate hearings. Do you think all that would have happened if they'd been transparent about this from before they started doing it? It seems unlikely to me.

          • Of course people would be screaming on internet forums. That happens every day no matter what. I'm talking about protracted national news coverage, expensive remedies, public apologies, Senate hearings. Do you think all that would have happened if they'd been transparent about this from before they started doing it? It seems unlikely to me.

            You know what they say about Hindsight, right?

    • Should Apple have made this a user controlled option? Sure. In fact, Apple could have had the phone show some message "Your battery needs replaced - your phone only has 75% of the capacity from when it was new"

      Apple has already said they plan to provide more detailed information and control for the user regarding battery health and attempts to avoid random shutdowns.

    • by Strider- ( 39683 )

      More so than this, what Apple was doing was performance capping. The iPhone is already aggressive when it comes to keeping the CPU as slow as possible to achieve the tasks at hand. The issue is that as batteries age, not only does their capacity go down, the amount of current they can supply at a given voltage also goes down. You get into a state where doing something CPU intensive will draw enough current to under-volt the system, causing the phone to "Crash" and reboot itself. What apple was doing was put

    • by zifn4b ( 1040588 )

      I do not think that the devices are slowed to make them unusable so people would buy new phones. Having a totally dead phone after 8 hours instead of 12 hours is worse, in my opinion.

      I agree with the first part. However, the way Apple implemented this "feature" is COMPLETELY stupid. They should have provided a setting and information about the health and age of the Lithium Ion battery (consequently they said they would do this after everyone got pissed at them) so that consumers could make the right choice for them. I would have preferred the opposite setting. The problem with Apple, and I have several Apple devices, is that Apple thinks it knows best how you should use its product

      • One advantage of Apple is that it uses expert opinions as to how to set things so people can't mess them up. It's part of "just works". Apple is not, repeat not, going to allow you to set your phone to a mode where it crashes instead of slows down. This isn't just a matter of battery life, it's a matter of avoiding crashes.

        Now, you may not want Apple making decisions for you, for very good reasons. In that case, I'd suggest buying something else.

    • In fact, Apple could have had the phone show some message "Your battery needs replaced - your phone only has 75% of the capacity from when it was new" and could have made a lot of money off of people replacing their batteries.

      Or alternately this thread would instead be about money-grabbing Apple scaring people into paying them for new batteries when their existing battery was "just fine", and that Apple was crippling people phones on purpose to extract maximum cash.

      Yaz

  • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) on Wednesday January 10, 2018 @11:00AM (#55900501)

    The corporations give the orders, the Congressmen follow them. Understood?

    • by zifn4b ( 1040588 )

      The corporations give the orders, the Congressmen follow them. Understood?

      And they give SJW's lives purpose and meaning...

  • by pak9rabid ( 1011935 ) on Wednesday January 10, 2018 @11:02AM (#55900523)
    Tackling the important issues I see...
  • Good! (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    And ask them why we can't change the batteries - like I can on my Samsung.

    Or why for no reason at all why I can't go above iOS 9.3.5 on my iTouch5 or iPad 2. And why I can't get the security updates and why my apps are starting to not work. And many new apps only work on iOS 10+. Sorry, I'm not spending another $500 just because a developer is too lazy.

    I expect a $500 device to last more than a couple of years and not have forced obsolescence.

    Apple's iOS devices are overpriced crap.

  • that is nearly unusable. I have been pondering since December on buying the X or Galaxy but now I may just have the battery replaced.

    Thereâ(TM)s nothing wrong with a 6 and Iâ(TM)m against upgrading just for the sake of it. Also i am happy with touchid, but would not buy a new phone that looks like the old phone.

    As it stands currently the iPhone 5 we have laying around with an old iOS and a dying battery is actually faster than he 6 with current iOS.

    Apple has normally been good with keeping stuff g

    • Fuck, whatâ(TM)s wrong with slashdot on iOS???

      • Fuck, whatâ(TM)s wrong with slashdot on iOS???

        How long have you been around here?

        The Slashdot Mantra is Apple is teh Evilz!

      • iOS keyboard substitutes straight quotes for curly quotes. Slashdot handles basic ASCII and that's about it.

    • [I have an iPhone 6] that is nearly unusable. I have been pondering since December on buying the X or Galaxy but now I may just have the battery replaced.

      Prove it.

      Publish your GeekBench Scores or STFU.

      My iPhone 6, purchased right when they came out in September, 2014, has 93% Battery Health, and has scored ABOVE the Average CPU Scores for the single and multiple-core scores, and only about 100 pts. below the average "Compute" Score (with no effort to stop any background processes before testing).

      So, if there are some "bad" batteries, then maybe there are; just like EVERYONE occasionally has (Hello, Samsung?); if so, then Apple is LOSING MONEY on the $29 batt

  • Moore's Law (Score:5, Funny)

    by forkfail ( 228161 ) on Wednesday January 10, 2018 @11:05AM (#55900545)

    An Aide for the Senator was quoted as saying: "The Senator believes that Moore's Law is an antiquated piece of legislation that no longer has relevance to today's technology. Instead of fostering growth, Moore's Law has become an impediment to innovation. We need to free the marketplace from these cumbersome regulations and government interference. Therefore, the Senator will be introducing legislation to repeal Moore's Law, and ensure that all software, regardless of language, compiler, or hardware affiliations will be free to continue running as fast as the day it was released on any platform, anywhere, at any time."

  • I think our Senators have much, much better things to worry about. How about Net Neutrality? Work Visa Abuse? Our endless wars? Jeff Session's push to enforce federal marijuana laws in states where it is legal? Heck, I'd rather they weigh in on the loot box controversy than this.
  • And he's not even up for re-election for another 5 years...

    Hmmm.. He must think this is important then..

  • by I75BJC ( 4590021 ) on Wednesday January 10, 2018 @11:07AM (#55900559)
    I have an iPhone that was "throttled". I noticed that the charge would last nearly as long as when it was new. After an update it went back to the time-between-charges as when it was new. I was happy about that. (I hate plugging my iPhone "in" while in my car, etc.) It was slower, the screen would dim, it would "slumber" and take a bit to wake up. But what I considered most important -- making it through my day's activities on one charge -- was the way it was acting. I'm glad Apple installed this change. I appreciate the change. The only fault that I see is that Apple didn't tell us. The fact that they made the change benefited me. I really don't care that they didn't tell me; it just would have been nice.
    It is bovine scat that Congress-critters are wasting time about this. There really are more important issues than a stinking smartphone charge IMHO.
    • But what I considered most important -- making it through my day's activities on one charge -- was the way it was acting. I'm glad Apple installed this change. I appreciate the change. The only fault that I see is that Apple didn't tell us. The fact that they made the change benefited me. I really don't care that they didn't tell me; it just would have been nice.

      Therein lies the problem. For some people, performance is more important than battery life. Apple could have avoided this entire mess if they had simply made it an option that the users could choose, instead of making the decision for them.

      • by nasch ( 598556 )

        My understanding is that without the change the phone wouldn't just run out of battery sooner, it would completely shut off if the system demanded more voltage than the battery could supply. I doubt many people would prefer that.

      • by GrahamJ ( 241784 )

        I think it's generally agreed by both sides that it would have been ideal if Apple had explained what was going on and provided a switch. The question here is whether lack of such warrants the government getting involved. I would say no.

        • I think it's generally agreed by both sides that it would have been ideal if Apple had explained what was going on and provided a switch. The question here is whether lack of such warrants the government getting involved. I would say no.

          I'm right there with you. The problem is these days everyone seeks a political solution or a legal solution. Acting ethically would have helped to avoid the entire issue.

    • by shess ( 31691 )

      It is bovine scat that Congress-critters are wasting time about this. There really are more important issues than a stinking smartphone charge IMHO.

      Maybe it's time to constitute a convention to change the rules to add a branch of government in charge of executing specific actions, rather than making broad decisions. Then Congress could step back and say things like "You people over there who work for us, we think it's bad the companies rip people off, please make sure companies don't rip people off", and they could provide money to fund enforcement.

      Someday, I guess.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      You wanted a phone that could last all day, so you bought the super thin super small battery iPhone. The battery is so small in fact that when it ages the phone starts to crash.

      Rather than demand this design flaw be fixed, you accept a loss of performance that helps Apple save money by but replacing your battery/phone for free.

  • by pikine ( 771084 ) on Wednesday January 10, 2018 @11:15AM (#55900629) Journal

    Apple apologized, heavily discounted battery replacement, and promised to modify iOS to show when throttling happens. They also explained they did it for better user experience: the slowdown is to avoid under-powering due to battery age. I would actually have liked to have that feature for my Android that randomly power cycles.

    Somehow the congresscritters think they could do better than Apple? These politicians only pretend they do something for the people only to distract people from their own incompetencies.

    • I would actually have liked to have that feature for my Android that randomly power cycles.

      If your Android has an unlockable bootloader, odds are you can get a kernel which will permit you to change maximum CPU speed — something which is simply not possible with Apple. And odds are also good that the developer can cheaply be induced to roll a special version of the kernel which loads up at a lower cpu speed for you.

    • The problem is that Apple made no announcement about that "feature" before it's been revealed by a website. At least two persons I know went to upgrade their iPhone 6 because it got slower, while the battery was still decently usable (you know, after the new models are released and you wonder "should I upgrade?").

      If it's such an amazing feature why didn't Apple notify users about it? Why didn't Apple say when iOS 11 was released "look, your device might get slower, but you could replace the battery to fi
      • by swb ( 14022 )

        This is the real problem -- if it was a feature, why wasn't it advertised or even made switchable/adjustable?

        It's hard not to see it as deliberate obsolescence at worst or just crummy software engineering at best (ie, not producing builds with battery sucking features handled more efficiently in newer hardware).

        But when you find it they were slowing phones deliberately, it makes the whole thing seem like excuse making.

    • Apple apologized, heavily discounted battery replacement, and promised to modify iOS to show when throttling happens. They also explained they did it for better user experience: the slowdown is to avoid under-powering due to battery age. I would actually have liked to have that feature for my Android that randomly power cycles.

      Somehow the congresscritters think they could do better than Apple? These politicians only pretend they do something for the people only to distract people from their own incompetencies.

      Exactly!!!

    • Tim Cook is that you....
    • And they did all this a couple days after Christmas - after the holiday sales rush. After the iPhone 8 was well-established. A $29 battery replacement does nothing for the person who spent $699 on a new phone when they were otherwise happy with their old one.

      A class action lawsuit on the part of people who replaced their phone prematurely is probably better than this, but it's not uncommon for state Attorneys General to get involved in larger claims. I don't really know where Congress fits in - but a Sen

      • by pikine ( 771084 )

        The battery discount announcement [apple.com] was posted on Dec 28, 2017, well within the 14 day return policy [apple.com] for most Christmas shopping. I think you're being absurd for suggesting that Apple is duping their customers on purpose.

        And you can still either keep the old phone as a secondary or you might have traded it in for credit [apple.com]. In any case, the credit for trade-in hasn't changed before and after the battery announcement. I don't understand why someone might be having buyer's remorse over getting a new phone. First w

        • I don't understand why someone might be having buyer's remorse over getting a new phone.

          They're excessively expensive. Especially if you don't live in an area with a high cost of living where the relative price is lower.

          And even if it's in the return window, most of these phones will have been activated and all the data transferred by then. Not a convenient return by any means - and even with the hardship of the cost, most people would still give up at that point.

          • by pikine ( 771084 )

            As an old-time and current Android user, let me share with you one reason why I'm seriously considering switching to iPhone, and I'm sure this reason alone is compelling enough to convince current iPhone users that they've made the right choice. It's the service. If you broke your iPhone, sure you'll have to pay to get it fixed, but you can bring it into any Apple store, and you either get it repaired or replaced during your visit. No downtime.

            When I broke my Android phone, I had to ship it back to some ser

            • With Android, you can go to any local shop and have it done same day or even while you wait. And they'll actually fix your own phone and never hand you someone else's refurbished phone.

              With Android comes more choice. Sure, most of these same shops repair iPhones too - but if you pick the wrong part to replace, a future software upgrade could brick your phone.

              • by pikine ( 771084 )

                Say your Google flagship Pixel phone is broken and you want walk-in repair. You can visit one of those locations [google.com]. There are fewer of those than Apple stores, so good luck finding a location near you.

                The problem with Android is the illusion of choice. You thought you had choice because there are so many phones to choose from when buying, but in reality the ecosystem is so fragmented such that there is no economy of scale to sustain the customer service infrastructure. Using the wrong part for repair is a wor

                • You don't have to go to an "authorized" location. You can go to any phone repair shop. Literally any shop. There are 2 in the town I live in. A few more the next town over. Replacement parts aren't locked down with Android vendors.

                  • by pikine ( 771084 )

                    Anecdotally, the nearest third-party shop from where I live had many glowing 5 star reviews for iPhone repairs. They also got a few 1 star bad reviews, but these never mention iPhone specifically, so they could very well be Android. YMMV, but it looks like that particular third-party shop has more iPhone customers than Android overall, and the iPhone customers are generally very happy.

                    Anyone could lookup these third-party shops closest to them and decide for themselves.

    • Because Apple is lobbying against Right to Repair laws, so this is very much of interest. The government is supposed to work on your behalf in your best interests. Once in a while, that happens.
  • Since when did the US SENATE become an escalation contact for internal Customer Service issues between Apple and their customers?

    overseeing business issues asked Apple to answer questions about its disclosure that it slowed older iPhones with flagging batteries .... the large volume of consumer criticism leveled against the company in light of its admission suggests that there should have been better transparency.

    Sounds like Apple made a design decision to limit their costs: a less-performant or more

  • "Couldn't they just replace the battery themselves for $10?"

    "No, it must be done at a dealer."

    "Why? Is there soldering?"

    "No, it's a normal battery plugin, but it is behind a warranty sticker."

    "Why?"

    "So we could charge a lot more. Android phones do this, too. The real goal is to make people throw up their hands and pay for the overpriced monthly infinite care package."

    "What is that?"

    "That's where we replace a phone with a returned one from an ever-growing pile of phones we don't know what to do with, as t

    • "I see. What does this have to do with slowing down the processor?"

      "The batteries degrade like it always did, but we hide it by lying about 100%. At some point battery life sucks. But the customer might sue us for providing a crappy battery life with expensive replacement, and we sure as shit don't want to pay for dealer replacement ourselves, so rather than taking a quality black eye, we lie a second time by slowing the processor. It's not lies because we hide it in the fine print, I hope."

  • I have an ancient iPhone 4 and it has gotten agonisingly slow. I no longer use it to browse the web. I thought that was because web pages got more and more bloated as devices got faster. But sometimes the phone freezes when I try to take a photo. In theory that could be caused by the power surge related to reading GPS coordinates (and then the phone would delay the start of the camera app). Anyone swapped the battery in iPhone4 and noticed a performance boost?
    • That's just the same old rule - don't upgrade to the last major iOS release available for a given device. They introduce enough features to demand more resources, slowing the whole thing down.

      Though there's not much cleanup/maintenance available to be performed on iOS. A restore from backup will refresh the OS and clear any caches and any junk left behind. And not reinstalling every app.

    • GPS power usage is minimal, the demand comes from the display, radio PA's/amplifiers, and camera flash. The worse your cell reception, the more power you draw, etc.
  • What I find most interesting about this is that smartphones have become so critical to people's everyday lives in just 10 years, that a Congressional committee is taking steps to grill a major provider of said phones.

    I'm an iPhone user and actually do like them. But, I really dislike the system that a duopoly has put in place. First, I can't switch to Android even if I want to without losing all the money I've invested in music, apps, etc. and having to re-buy collections on the other platform. Second, the

    • without losing all the money I've invested in music, apps, etc. and having to re-buy collections on the other platform.

      Apple sells their music in a lossless AAC format (and have for about 10 years, I think). Android plays them just fine. I never buy a whole lot of apps, they're not usually worth it. I'm not sure what "collections" you're re-buying.

  • All of this tells me that I'm not crazy. The phone becoming slow, clunky, and such wasn't "compared to the new one", nor was it "the apps you are running" or is it "the new OS has crazy hardware needs"...no... It was simply they are buggering YOUR phone to make you buy a new one.

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