iOS 6, Too Hot to Handle

Yesterday Apple unleashed a new version of the operating system that runs its iPhones, iPads, and probably iEverything.  I accepted the offer to download and install iOS6 on our household’s iDevices when I synched one of our iPhones yesterday morning.  I’d heard good things about the operating system’s new features, and, besides, Apple is fairly insistent that you upgrade when you can.  I didn’t make Apple nag me, I eagerly upgraded.

The OS looked good, but when we took our  iPhone 3gs’s outside of the house and tested the new mapping feature, the iPhones started running hot to the touch and losing battery life very quickly.

The news media has ignored the power story, instead reiterating how wonderful the iPhone 5 is and talking about the new features of iOS6. However, consumers like me have been screaming for help (or vengeance) on online forums and Tweets. A Google search for “iOS6 Battery Drain” shows plenty of anguish loose in the Apple orchard.

The loss of battery power is severe, maybe especially so in the older models like our 3gs.  A few hours without recharging and your phone is a lump of inert electronics and trim.

The Google search does turn up what the user community suspects are the problems.

  • Apparently the widely-disliked Apple map app is a power hog, in addition to its functional failings.  It, and other apps that use “Location Services,” do something wrong, like check-in with the mother ship too frequently. As a result the cell radio is active too much of the time.

How to fix the power drain:

  • Turn Location Services OFF for the new map app.  The setting is buried in the General, Privacy menu, but it’s a treasure worth hunting for. On my phone I went on a disabling spree, and I turned off location services for the map app, turned off Genius for Apps, and turned location-based iAds is OFF.  I also turned off “Use Cellular Data” for automatic downloads and iTunes Match.Yes, having a map not be able to tell where you are is stupid.  

But when we  turned off that location service and rebooted (because somewhere we read that the map app keeps the gps function going even after it is closed), our phones stopped being hot and battery life returned to pre-iOS6 levels.  We made our changes this morning, and my phone didn’t even want a mid-afternoon snack.

Now we’re enjoying iOS6 without having to keep our iPhones plugged into a charger.

Still, as a IT professional, I wonder all to hell and back how Apple could have put out another power-draining operating system release, this one caused by an Apple-made map app that is both inferior and faulty. Don’t they have pride, or at least a quality control department?

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