In 2017, Apple released iPhone X. The most dramatic update to iPhone since the original. Although it took away a convenient feature that the device previously had, the battery percentage. It used to be viewable directly from the menu bar. But with iPhone X, it was moved to control center. Requiring a swipe down just to see the state of charge. Many felt this was a step backward, so why did Apple do it?
Well the obvious answer is because of the notch. One of its headlining features was the TrueDepth Camera System which powered Face ID. But all the components were housed in a large notch at the top of the display. It took up a considerable amount of space, but Apple still wanted to squeeze in all of the menu bar icons on either side. The time, network bars, and wifi icon all made the list. But the battery percentage did not. It was relegated to Control Center. Since Apple figured users could just estimate their battery level by glancing at the icon. But it quickly became clear that people preferred seeing an exact number. And navigating to control center to get it became frustrating.
So Apple took an approach similar to Android. By integrating the battery percentage inside the icon. News of this update in iOS 16 came as a relief to iPhone users who’d gone five years without the feature. But the excitement cooled once Apple revealed how they’d implemented it. If the device’s battery was over twenty percent, the icon would appear completely full. Even if the percentage said otherwise. Once it reached twenty percent or less, the icon dropped down to red. Users found this behavior misleading. Since the battery might appear full at a glance but turn out to be less after reading the percentage.
This led to user-made mockups suggesting how Apple could fix the problem. And that’s exactly what they did in the iOS 16.1 beta. Bringing back the visual charge level along with the percentage. Something that maybe shouldn’t have taken five years and two software releases to figure out.