iPhone 13 could predict when you need to charge the battery

iPhone 12
The iPhone 12, charging using a MagSafe charging pad. (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The iPhone 13 could come with an ingenious software feature to help you charge your iPhone before you find yourself low on power.

If you're using one of the best iPhones, you've no doubt already noticed that it gives you battery warnings when your phone drops to 20% or lower of your total capacity. But a new Apple-designed patent instead wants to warn you when you should charge and avoid these low-battery moments altogether.

"Smart advice to charge notification," as the patent has been dubbed (via AppleInsider), aims to tell you to charge up your phone at a point in time when it thinks you might actually be able to do so. This is based on your recent charging and usage habits throughout the day, taking into account the frequency with which you charge or drain the phone's battery, and at what magnitude.

The system will suggest you plug in your iPhone for a quick top-up before you find yourself away from any nearby outlets and low on juice, whether from normal battery drain or because it thinks you're about to use a lot of charge for a power-intensive activity. If needed, the system could also notify you on one device to charge up a second device — which would be useful if you're not currently using the second machine but it's been slowly draining down in the background. 

Apple predictive charging patent

An illustration from the patent. This graph shows instances of charging and discharging over a 24 hour period, and represents the data the system would use to make its predictions. (Image credit: USPTO)

The system wouldn't need to be exclusive for iPhones, either. The patent refers only to a "computing device," which could mean that the best MacBooks, best Apple Watches and the likes of the iPad Air 2020 would also benefit. The text of the patent mentions how it could use location data to further optimize the system, albeit anonymized to prevent privacy issues.

iPhones are already capable of tracking your charging habits to enable Optimized Battery Charging. This feature prevents your iPhone battery from unneeded strain, caused by keeping it at 100% for too long, by only charging the phone above 80% just before the system predicts you will unplug it. This is to say nothing of iOS' Siri predictions and Smart Widgets, which do a similar job in recommending you the apps you need at that moment.

Usually when we hear about patents, we stress that product development is full of dead ends and long periods of time between an initial idea and it reaching the public. However in this case, it feels like Apple already has all the parts in place that it needs to make this happen.

Apple is currently beta testing iOS 14.5, the newest version of the iPhone's software, which has introduced some neat new features such as new Siri voices and the option to unlock an iPhone with an Apple Watch. In an ideal world, Apple would have its smart charging warnings ready to go for the next beta, and have it rolled out to iPhone users in a matter of months.

However if this concept is only being patented now, perhaps we'll see it debut with the reveal of iOS 15 at WWDC 21 in June and subsequently on the iPhone 13 in September. Of course, it's also possible that Apple will continue developing its smart charging advice for some time yet — but we'll be watching with interest either way.

Richard Priday
Assistant Phones Editor

Richard is based in London, covering news, reviews and how-tos for phones, tablets, gaming, and whatever else people need advice on. Following on from his MA in Magazine Journalism at the University of Sheffield, he's also written for WIRED U.K., The Register and Creative Bloq. When not at work, he's likely thinking about how to brew the perfect cup of specialty coffee.