Apple acknowledged a "few bugs" affecting the battery life of some iOS 5 devices, confirming earlier reports by users around the world.
"A small number of customers have reported lower than expected battery life on iOS 5 devices," Apple wrote in a Nov. 2 statement to AllThingsD. "We have found a few bugs that are affecting battery life and we will release a software update to address those in a few weeks."
According to the blog MacRumors, the iOS 5.0.1 beta issued to developers Nov. 2 (build 9A402) includes the fix for the battery-life bugs. It also adds multitasking gestures to the original iPad, boosts operating system security and repairs issues associated with Documents in the Cloud.
Reports of battery issues with iOS 5 erupted on the Web a few days ago. By Oct. 28, a discussion thread on Apple's Website had filled with users irate over their iPhone 4S battery life. "I checked and all my settings are similar to my iPhone 4 (i.e., Bluetooth and ping off, brightness pretty low, etc.)," one wrote. "Seems to lose 1 percent every 3-4 minutes, even when locked/asleep." Others on the thread reported battery drain approaching 15 to 20 percent per hour.
In broadest strokes-i.e., confused users, rumors of Apple engineers pursuing a software fix, intense media scrutiny-the situation with the iPhone 4S recalls that of the iPhone 4, whose blockbuster release in 2010 was nonetheless marred by reports of dropped calls whenever users gripped the device in a certain way with bare hands.
In the latter situation, however, it took Apple far longer to cobble together a solution, namely issuing free rubber bumpers to iPhone 4 owners. The bumpers blocked the device's exterior antenna rim from skin contact, resolving the issue. After maintaining that program for a few months following the iPhone 4's release, Apple abruptly shut down the whole issue with a note on its Website. In the end, it ended up paying out some $175 million in bumpers.
Based solely on this incident with the iOS 5 battery life, damage control under new CEO Tim Cook seems remarkably similar to that of departed leader Steve Jobs: admit to a problem in a relatively low-key way, quickly issue a fix and move on.