WWDC 2022 begins next week with the opening keynote on Monday, and we’ll finally get to see the next versions of Apple’s operating systems. Among all the rumors for watchOS 9, there’s one that caught my attention – a new low power mode for the Apple Watch. And in fact, I do think that the Apple Watch should have a smart low power mode.
Some of you may think “wait a minute, the Apple Watch already has a low power mode.” Sort of. From the very beginning, Apple Watch featured a “Power Reserve” mode, which can be enabled at any time by the user and is suggested when the battery level reaches 10%.
According to Apple, Power Reserve mode can extend the Apple Watch battery for up to 72 hours. While this may sound too good to be true, there’s a catch when it comes to this feature.
Unlike the Low Power Mode option that you find in iOS and macOS, Power Reserve is much more aggressive and is intended for emergencies, when you really don’t have enough battery power to keep your watch powered on. Once you enable Power Reserve, Apple Watch goes into a special mode where it just shows the time – and that’s it.
With Power Reserve enabled, the watch disables all its connections, sensors, and smart features, acting as a basic watch to preserve battery power. It’s almost as if the Apple Watch is running an alternative operating system with no features at all.
This makes sense for emergencies, but the Power Reserve mode has some drawbacks. Since Power Reserve works “apart” from watchOS, you can’t even touch the screen or raise your wrist to see the time. The only way to see the time is by clicking on the side button, and it takes a few seconds before the watch responds to the command.
It’s clearly a feature that wasn’t created to be used in everyday life.
A smart low power mode
When the rumors of a new low power mode in watchOS 9 first came out, I wondered what Apple could do to improve something as simple as a low power mode. Personally, I think there are two implementations that I’d like to see on the Apple Watch.
First, watchOS could have a Low Power Mode toggle that works similar to what’s in iOS. With the option turned on, Apple Watch would pause background activities, reduce screen brightness, and also decrease CPU performance to consume less power. This wouldn’t extend the battery life for days, but it would be enough for those times when you’re not home yet but want to make sure you have your watch with you for longer.
A second option could be a smart version of the current Power Reserve mode. However, instead of turning off the Apple Watch completely, it could lock the user into a single watch face while also suspending its wireless connections and some of its sensors but still letting the user tap the screen to quickly check the time and return to normal mode.
Usually, battery is not a problem for me as I find it ok to recharge my Apple Watch every night. But there are special occasions, like when I’m traveling, where I don’t use all the features of the Apple Watch and I’d prefer to use it with a low power mode enabled. If I’m going to spend 15 hours inside an airplane, I don’t need all the sensors and connections turned on, but I also don’t want to lose all the Apple Watch features.
But what about you? Would you like to see a better low power mode in watchOS 9? Let me know in the comments below.
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