Apple has plenty of already announced features coming to iOS 16 in updates later this year. But in the company’s press release announcing the initial availability of iOS 16 Monday, it announced an upcoming feature we hadn’t heard of before: clean energy charging.
It was just a passing note in a footnote about the availability of iOS 16, packed with other features we know coming in updates later this year, such as Live Activities, iCloud Photo Sharing, and support for the Matter Smart Home standard. We do not yet have much concrete information about Clean Energy Charging.
Apple says Clean Energy Charging “wants to reduce the iPhone’s carbon footprint by optimizing charging times for when the power grid uses cleaner energy sources.” Additionally, a footnote to the footnote states that the feature will only be available to users in the US. Hopefully it will be expanded to other areas in the future. Apple doesn’t say whether the feature will be limited to certain iPhones.
Our best guess? Apple is likely working together to get data from power grid operators showing the mix of energy sources that power the grid (see, for example, the California ISO supply trend page), or with a third-party source like Watttime that tries to measure when the electricity you’re using, is powered by cleaner resources.
During a typical day, electricity demand fluctuates, often making it necessary to increase the power of on-demand sources such as natural gas plants. Energy sources such as sun and wind produce variable amounts of power depending on the time of day and the weather. Hydropower often changes with the seasons.
But this is all predictable once you have the data, and it sounds like this feature is going to attempt to charge your iPhone when the grid is “green,” so to speak. For example, if you plug in your iPhone at 9 PM, your phone may detect that based on your past usage history, you don’t really need to charge it yet, and it’s better to wait a few minutes. wait hours because the power in your area is currently being generated by a higher percentage of renewable energy sources. There will likely be a switch in the battery settings that allows you to disable Clean Energy Charging.
It is a feature that you should definitely know not only about the power generation sources in your area, but also about your charging and usage habits during the day, because the point is that you not start charging immediately if it would be greener to wait, but no one wants their phone to die because it won’t charge when plugged in.
Apple says clean energy charging will appear “later this year” in an iOS 16 update.