Apple is adding a new Battery Health Management feature to MacBooks with macOS Catalina 10.15.5 developer beta. The feature will be released to all MacBook models with Thunderbolt 3 once macOS Catalina 10.15.5 stable update goes live.
Apple says that it is implementing this feature to prolong battery lifespan and improve efficiency by reducing its chemical aging. It sounds familiar because the company had introduced this feature in iPhones sometime back and it was met with criticism due to the company's lack of transparency in how it works. While on iPhones, the performance of the device takes a hit, as battery ages, to prevent unexpected shutdowns, on MacBooks it is implemented differently. It seems to work similarly to the 'Optimized Charging' feature in iPhones.
How will Battery Health Management work in macOS Catalina 10.15.5?
MacBooks use Lithium-ion batteries and they have a certain number of charge cycles before they start degrading in performance. With every charge cycle, the battery chemically ages, and its capability to hold a 100% charge reduces over time.
Battery Health Management will aim to improve the lifespan of your MacBook's battery by reducing its chemical aging process. It will monitor the battery temperature and charging patterns to reduce the maximum charge based on your usage. Not fully charging the battery will reduce its wear and tear, and it turn, reduce the pace at which it chemical ages. Luckily, there will be no impact on your MacBook's performance, even when the battery ages, unlike on iPhone.
One drawback of this is that even though your MacBook might say it is 100% charged, it might not last as long as it should because the charge capacity might have been minimized based on your usage patterns. In such instances, it would be recommended to disable Battery Health Management from System Preferences in macOS Catalina 10.15.15 so you can best out of your battery capacity.
Battery Health Management will only be supported on MacBook Air and MacBook Pro models which have Thunderbolt 3 ports. This includes MacBook Air (2018 or later) and MacBook Pro (2016 or later). The feature will be enabled by default after users upgrade to macOS Catalina 10.15.5 software update.
The timing of this feature addition is odd as Apple does not add new features so late during a macOS update. Some speculate that users have been working from home and keeping their MacBooks plugged in for longer periods of time, which is why Apple rolled out this feature. However, even when we work from office, our MacBooks are still plugged in for most parts of the day, so take that with a grain of salt.
macOS 10.16 is just around the corner as WWDC 2020 will be taking place in June. Hopefully, it will have more stability and quality control improvements than Catalina.