iPod touch battery life and iOS 4: It’s the ‘Fetch New Data’ setting

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
July 14th, 2010 • 2:53 pm

After a week of real-world iPod touch usage, I just want to post a short note confirming that the problem with iOS 4 draining the iPod touch’s battery appears to be connected to the use of a specific setting that is turned on by default on the iPod after installing iOS 4.

In my last post, I wrote that switching to “Airplane Mode” would alleviate the problem, which indicated that the problem was linked to the iPod touch’s wireless features (all of which are turned off when in that mode).

After reading about the problem some more and getting some feedback from Betalogue readers, I can now confirm that I am able to eliminate the battery-draining problem and restore the battery life that I am used to on my iPod touch without switching to “Airplane Mode,” by simply changing the “Fetch New Data” feature in the Settings app, under “Mail, Contacts, Calendars,” to “Off.”

In my case, this means turning the “Push” setting to “Off” and the “Fetch” setting to “Manually.”

I believe that, if you use any other settings for this “Fetch New Data” feature, iOS 4 keeps the iPod touch’s Wi-Fi connection live at all times, even when the iPod appears to be asleep. And that’s what eventually drains your battery in much less time than it used to with previous versions of the operating system.

Now, it’s still unclear to me whether this is a feature or a bug. I have received feedback from a Betalogue reader who has submitted a bug report to Apple about this (via Bug Reporter) and the feedback he’s received from Apple appears to indicate that they are treating this as a bug and that, indeed, it is now considered a “known issue.”

This seems to indicate that a bug fix should be available soon in an incremental iOS update. The fix will probably consist of restoring the previous behaviour, which was that, when the iPod touch was asleep, its Wi-Fi features would be automatically turned off. After all, the iPod touch is not a phone and usage patterns surely are significantly different.

Sure, there might be some iPod touch users for whom the always-on Wi-Fi might be a desirable feature, in spite of the battery-draining effect, but they are probably a small minority, and it would make sense to restore the previous behaviour for everyone and simply give these users who want it the option to keep their Wi-Fi connection live even when their iPod touch is otherwise asleep. (It also seems to me that, if the “Push” setting is off, even if the “Fetch New Data” option is set to fetching automatically at regular intervals, iOS 4 should be able to turn the Wi-Fi connection off and only back on when it actually needs it, i.e. for each automatic check. Surely that would alleviate the battery-draining significantly.)

One Response to “iPod touch battery life and iOS 4: It’s the ‘Fetch New Data’ setting”

  1. iPod touch: iOS 4 sorgt für mehr Stromverbrauch « macnews.de says:

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