Apple Working On Location-Aware Battery Management For iPhone

Apple has been tinkering with ways to make the iPhone better at managing battery life intelligently based on usage pattern, a new patent filing published by the USPTO today (spotted by AppleInsider) reveals. The application describes a system that learns your habits, evaluates how much power is needed between your usual charges and does everything it can to keep the phone running when you’re away from power sources.

The invention involves using location data combined with the kind of activity that a user is actually engaging in with their smartphone to give a more complete picture of when they need to be stingy with power and when they don’t. It’s a little like how your Mac can detect when it gets plugged in and then change its power profile accordingly, adjusting things like display brightness and time until sleep. The mobile version would be smarter, however, and even estimate the amount of time a user will be away from a power source and modify energy usage accordingly.

Thus when a person is at home, the phone will know that and not worry too much about longevity. But when a user is traveling long distances, the phone would adjust “characteristics” to compensate. Those power saving strategies could include limiting data fetch intervals, turning down display brightness, turning off open applications or even preventing some from running.

The automatic component of the system would involve the iPhone storing a number of regularly used charging points and estimating time between those points based on daily habits, but users could also directly input specific information, like how long they thing they’ll be away from power for instance. Users could also select from different types of power profiles, the application suggests.

In another neat trick, the system would detect what kind of source is being used to charge and adjust the charging rate accordingly – charging faster when it knows it’s in a car and only available to power for a limited time, for instance, but slowing down at home to decrease the effect on battery health.

Power management is one way to tackle the needs of battery-hungry users who often find that to be the limiting factor of their smartphone devices. In place of sophisticated new battery technologies, this could be what Apple turns to to make iPhones balance ever-increasing processing power and energy demands, and it is a logical development for mobile computing in general.