Apple is adding a new feature to iOS 14 that could help your AirPods batteries last longer

Crystal Cox/Business InsiderApple’s AirPods Pro.
  • Apple is adding optimised battery charging to AirPods in iOS 14.
  • The feature, which came to iPhones last year, helps preserve the longevity of your battery by learning your charging behaviours and only charging to 100% right before you need it.
  • Keeping lithium ion batteries at 100% charge can speed up the battery ageing process, meaning your device’s battery will more quickly become less efficient at holding and supplying power.
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If you’ve been an AirPods user for a few years, you know that the batteries inside eventually begin to wear out, unable to hold a charge the way they could when you got them. But Apple’s new iPhone software contains a small feature that should help that problem.

When iOS 14 arrives this fall, it will include optimised battery charging for AirPods, as multiple users with access to the developer beta have noticed. The feature, which came to the iPhone last year with iOS 13, is intended to help preserve the longevity of lithium ion batteries.

It works by learning your charging behaviour – Do you like to charge your device while you sleep? While you’re at your desk during the day? – and delays charging the device past 80% until it’s close to time to unplug. In the time right before you typically unplug your device, it will top off the charge so you’re at 100% by the time you need it.

Lithium ion batteries degrade as they age, regardless of your charging habits. But keeping a device at 100% charge can speed up the ageing process, meaning your device’s battery will become less efficient at storing and delivering power, according to Business Insider’s Antonio Villas-Boas.

By adding optimised battery charging to AirPods, Apple is trying to help preserve the battery capacity on your AirPods, meaning you hopefully won’t need to replace them quite as soon. (Apple is adding the feature to Macs, too, with the new macOS Big Sur.)

This is a good thing for AirPods users: Unlike many other Apple devices, you can’t simply replace the batteries in your AirPods as they get old. In fact, it seems to be impossible to get the battery out without completely destroying the earbud, according to a Washington Post test from last October. While Apple offers the option to buy replacement AirPods, they cost $US49 per bud.

And although you can recycle your old AirPods through Apple, as Vice’s Caroline Haskins pointed out, there’s no easy way to do it, as prying apart the components in order to recycle them is challenging.

Overall, the new battery feature will hopefully be a win-win: reducing AirPods e-waste and saving you from having to spend money on more pairs of AirPods.

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