November 05, 2011, 8:48 AM — Apple's concession Wednesday that an iOS 5 glitch is behind the battery problems experienced by some iOS devices is welcome news. Not only does it mean help is on the way--Apple promised it was working on a fix--but it also lets iOS device owners who've been experiencing battery drain know that they aren't imagining things. As someone who's had to troubleshoot a power-mad iPhone 4S, I'm happy to hear that I'm not crazy. Not about this, anyhow.
While the iPhone 4S has been the focus of many battery-life complaints, it's not the only device suffering from a loss of power. I've received anecdotal reports from Macworld staff members as well as from readers that these battery-sucking issues affect other devices running iOS 5. And that makes sense: With its iCloud integration, wireless syncing, and greater use of location services, iOS 5 is bound to pull more power from a device's battery. The new mobile OS also makes it easier to push data (contacts, calendars, and email) from a variety of accounts (Gmail and Yahoo, for instance), and with push comes an increasingly taxed battery.
If you've been having battery-life problems with your iOS 5 devices, you could sit back and wait for Apple's promised iOS update to fix the problem. But if you're more inclined to take an active approach, there are some things you can do to track down--and maybe even tackle--the source of your power problems.
System Services: Go to Settings -> Location Services -> System Services. In the resulting screen you'll see a series of entries (the number and kind you see depends on the device you're using). By default, they're all switched on. But regardless of whether any of these options are buggy or not, I see little use for many of them. For example, some people have suggested that the Setting Time Zone option can cause problems as the device constantly checks with a server to see if it's changed time zones. Unless you're the ultimate jet-setter, you don't need to have this option enabled. If you don't care about what's on sale at the corner Chocklit Shoppe, switch off Location-Based iAds. If you don't use Maps to check on traffic, turn off Traffic. And if you know north from south, switch off Compass Calibration. At the very least, switch on the Status Bar Icon option so you can see when your device is using some of these services.