Apple introduces Clean Energy Charging on iOS devices

The world’s second most popular smartphone platform is making it easier for people to use their device in more environmentally friendly ways.

Apple’s latest operating system update, iOS16.1, which runs on the tech giant’s mobile devices, has introduced a Clean Energy Charging option, allowing users to cut down on their carbon footprint by selectively charging at times when lower carbon electricity sources are available on the grid. 

two space gray and two silver iPhone 11's

Sadly, the functionality is currently only available in the US at the time of writing, but its inclusion in the new software version suggests plans to roll out across more regions. Although this seems like a relatively small contribution to reducing energy consumption, and emissions, in the UK alone almost 29m people own one of Apple’s iconic mobiles, so giving them all a greener, cleaner choice isn’t insignificant. 

In order to use the function, Location Services, System Customisation and Significant Locations must all be enabled within the System Services section of Settings. Once this is done, when the iPhone is plugged-in to a mains it will avoid charging when high carbon power is offered, delaying the process until more environmentally friendly energy becomes available. This restriction can be overwritten if charging is urgently needed by touching and holding an on-screen notification to ‘Charge Now’. 

In 2020, Apple also unveiled a Maps update to help drivers locate EV charge points. 

While these are welcome steps from Apple in terms of bringing software online with the decarbonisation era, serious questions remain about the firm’s contribution to the environmental cause. Major criticisms have long-been aimed at the company for the practice of so-called ‘forced obsoletion’, whereby products are rendered useless by updates lacking backwards compatibility, pushing people to upgrade hardware which itself has a huge impact on the planet due to the mining of rare minerals and carbon-heavy manufacturing processes. 

Image: Daniel Romero



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