Apple releases beta patch to improve battery life for 2016 MacBook Pros

Apple has reportedly fixed the issues leading to the noticeably short battery life in the latest MacBook Pros in a beta update. That reports Consumer Reports, the American consumer organization that did not fully recommend the laptop because of the problem.

It was the first time that Consumer Reports did not fully recommend an Apple laptop. The results of the first battery life tests yielded battery times ranging from 3.75 hours to 19.5 hours. Those were the most inconsistent results the organization has measured of all 140 laptops it reviewed. According to a statement from the organization, the beta update was installed on the same MacBook Pro that Consumer Reports previously ran its battery life tests on. Those trials are now being repeated and the organization will publish them when they are ready.

The bug was nested in Safari. Consumer Reports disables the caching function in its browser test via a hidden setting. After this, the organization can repeatedly load the same web page without being de-cached, which better mimics real-world usage conditions. It was this setting that apparently triggered the bug. It’s one of several settings that Consumer Reports adjusts for its battery life test. The organization has also repeated the test without adjusted settings and then the result was more consistent and as expected.

Consumer Reports itself notes that there have also been consumers who have complained on forums about the short battery life of Apple’s latest laptop. However, it is unlikely that these consumers also disabled Safari’s caching via the hidden setting. Since Apple says the battery life problem comes from there, it is not certain that these users will also be cured of their battery life problems.

The update that fixes the bug in Safari is now available as update 10.12.3 beta 3. Users can get it by enrolling in Apple’s beta program. After several weeks of testing, the update will be distributed to all users of the latest MacBook Pros. In an earlier update, Apple had already removed the estimates of the remaining battery life from macOS.