Undocumented feature dims the screen between directions to save battery, but it’s having unintended consequences.
One of the big issues in using phones as GPS nav devices remains battery power. As a power mobile user and a power location based services users, the battery is a major problem for me.
To illustrate the power drain of car navigation, plug in your portable car navigation device and see how long it takes for the battery to go flat. My TomTom is about two years and the battery hard;y holds a charge at all, but when it was new it lasted about 4 hours on a fully charged battery of it wasn’t plugged in. That’s a battery that is probably much larger than the battery in my iPhones.
GPS solutions use communications all the time, because they have to locate and calculate their location by receiving signals from satellites. The nature of the moving map is the equivalent of watching a movie, watching the maps move which you shouldn’t be doing a lot of the time, for its distraction factor also uses a lot of power as players of games will tell you.
This is a problem for mobiles. my business phone is an iPhone 5s and the battery no longer lasts a day, i.e. I have to remember to charge it regularly. There was a time when I carried phones with a spare battery, just as I do with my SLR digital camera. I’ can’t do that with my iPhone, although I can off course carry one of those portable chargers and do, from time to time.
I like this feature, but obviously it should be programmable, including the degree of dimming. But there might be other features they could also consider, like how often it updates your physical location, using gestures or taps to wake up the screen when navigating so the back-lit screen can go to sleep, but be instantly on when you need it i.e. it doesn’t turn off, it just uses less power.
One of the things I frequently talk about is that no matter what phase a technology is at, we demand more from it. It seems that battery power remains to be one of the biggest limiting factors in portable computing and telecommunications. The apps and functionality we most like to use are the ones that consume the most power.