Get more out of your iPad’s battery with Apple’s built-in utility

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Pilots tend to focus more on optimizing the iPad’s battery life than the average iPad user, since this is critical to keeping the device functioning in the airplane over the course of a flight. Sometimes this can feel like guessing, though—how long has it really been since you last charged it, and what is using the most battery? You don’t have to guess, because there’s a dedicated utility in the main iPad settings to help shed some light on which apps are using the most power, possibly while running in the background.

Go to the main iPad settings app and scroll down to the “Battery” option from the list on the left side of the screen. Here you’ll see a breakdown of activity and battery usage by app, with the option to view it either over the last 24 hours or 10 days. The bar graph towards the top of the screen gives a big picture view of usage and activity, comparing screen “on” vs. screen “off” time.

Next, tap the list of apps under the graph to display additional information about each app’s usage, including stats on whether the usage activity occurred with the screen on or while the app was running in the background. You’ll likely see the note “background activity” listed along with the screen time for each app. This means a portion of the battery drain came during times when the app was updating content in the background while you weren’t actively using it.

If you don’t use this app often and want to disable that capability, go the main page of the Settings app -> General -> Background App Refresh. Here you can disable background updates for the iPad altogether, or choose to disable it for individual apps.

While you’re performing iPad housecleaning, we’d also recommend you go to iPad Settings -> Privacy and Security -> Location Services and review the settings for each app’s ability to track your location in the background, which can significantly reduce battery life. Check out this article for more information on how to optimize the Locations Services settings.

1 reply
  1. Iconoclast
    Iconoclast says:

    Before each flight, often as I’m driving to the airport, I delete all active apps then I reboot my iPad. I start my flight with my iPad as “clean” as I can make it.
    I once had a problem with Bluetooth connectivity that was resolved by rebooting but my engine was running and I was distracted by these unnecessary details.

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