Low Power Mode

Apple added something in iOS 9 called Low Power Mode that is designed to turn off a group of features all at once in an attempt to save battery life. When the low battery notifications pop up on iPhone now, they present an option to enable Low Power Mode. Per Apple, this is what that does:

Low Power Mode reduces or turns off these features:

  • Email fetch
  • Hey Siri
  • Background app refresh
  • Automatic downloads
  • Wi-Fi associations
  • Some visual effects

This is pretty smart, and yet another example of Apple thinking of small, incremental ideas that can be super helpful. Graham Spencer wrote on MacStories about how he used this on vacation to ensure his phone didn’t die while being out and about all day.

What is interesting about this set of features affected by Low Power Mode is that most of them also would save on data usage as well. This is when a lightbulb went off in my head about the perfect use for this feature.

I use my iPad Mini tethered to my iPhone quite a bit. When you do this your iPad treats itself like it is connected to any other Wi-Fi network. In other words, a lot of apps have settings that say “only do this on Wi-Fi” and those things are done with tethering, even though technically you are on a cellular connection. It seems odd that Apple designed it this way, since tethering is obviously identified differently by the operating system (there is a different icon in the top status bar when tethered). The issue here is that more data is consumed that I would like because my iPad goes all “fat guy at a buffet” and consumes as much data as possible.

After reading about Low Power Mode, it immediately becomes clear to me that this would at least minimally cut down on extraneous data use. That is until you more closely look at the Apple support page for this feature and see “iPhone only”.

I would love an explanation as to why this is. I suppose it’s some sort of hardware specific to the iPhone, but that seems like a stretch. All this mode appears to do is disable a bunch of features all at once. And why wouldn’t conserving the last precious bits of battery life on an iPad be just as important? All-in-all this one doesn’t make a lot of sense.