Until recently I was pretty sure that I had received a bad iPad Pro from Apple. I’d charge the iPad once or twice a week, but since I only really use the device for browsing news and Reddit — perhaps three to four hours a week — I was always disappointed in the battery life.
Until I turned off Find My.
Apple’s Find My network is one of the company’s largest ecosystems. Along with iMessage for texting and the App Store for apps, Find My is a billion-plus-device ecosystem that is constantly in operation pinging Apple’s servers and saying hi. Devices on the Find My network include iPhones and iPads, of course, but also Macs, and pretty much anything that anyone has put an AirTag on.
It’s super useful: I’ve saved myself going out without my wallet a number of times thanks to the AirTag I put in it, and my wife always knows where her Nissan Leaf is thanks to the AirTag she put in it. It also allows you to display messages on lost devices to help a Good Samaritan return it to you, and remotely wipe devices that have been stolen when the bad guys got you.
But all of that comes with a cost.
The problem with my iPad was precisely with the situation Apple hardware has been so good at for so long: maintaining charge while sleeping. That was a major positive of my first iPad and all the subsequent iPads I’d owned, but they were all pre-Find My.
Checking my battery usage revealed the issue: Find My had consumed literally 85% of the battery in the preceding period. In other words, my iPad was so busily pinging devices and Apple’s iCloud services that just sitting there it was essentially draining its batteries in a matter of days.
Even in airplane mode, which is typically a battery-saving mode.
Apparently I’m not the only one.
“’Find My’ is consistently in the top spot for usage in the battery app,” says NickRedwoodCity on Apple’s support forums. “Just today my iPad Pro dropped from 94% to 79% in about 5 hours without any use.”
Fixing the issue was a pretty simple thing for me: my iPad rarely leaves my house, and I typically leave it only in one location, so it doesn’t really need the Find My service. Despite the risk of it getting stolen in a break-in and not being able to track it, it’s better for my purposes to turn Find My off.
Once done, the iPad stays at pretty much the charge I stop used it at, minus a few expected percentage points a day. Instead of being a multiple times per week thing, recharging is now a weekly or even less frequent activity.
This is probably a glitch in iPadOS — I’m running 15.5 (18F77) on the iPad Pro 11” third generation — and Apple has suggested a full restore cycle as a fix. I’ll try Find My again in iPad OS 16 when it comes out and see if the problem has been resolved.