The December Pixel Feature Drop brought several new features to the Pixel line. However, some features, like the fancy new Adaptive Charging capability, have several odd restrictions to them.
Adaptive Charging, which arrived for Pixel 4 and newer devices, allows the smartphone to intelligently charge based on the user’s sleep pattern. For example, Pixel phones with the feature will slow down charging when you plug them in overnight and quickly finish charging shortly before you wake up. Unfortunately, Adaptive Charging only kicks in at certain times, which could prevent it from working with some sleep schedules.
The main benefit of this feature is that it reduces the amount of time the battery spends at 100 percent. Batteries tend to wear out quicker if they’re kept at 100 percent for long periods — such as when charging overnight. It’s worth noting that Apple introduced a similar feature with iOS 13.
However, unlike Apple’s ‘Optimized Battery Charging,’ which uses machine learning to adjust charging based on how people charge their iPhone, Google’s Adaptive Charging includes several arbitrary restrictions. A Google support document spotted by 9to5Google notes that Adaptive Charging kicks in “when you charge your phone after 9PM, with an active alarm set for 5-10AM… Otherwise, your phone charges normally.”
Unfortunately, not everyone operates on such a schedule. Some people get up earlier than 5am, some people sleep in later than 10am and some people work at night and sleep during the day. Plus, with so many people working remotely because of the pandemic, schedules can be even more sporadic.
To make matters worse, the Adaptive Charging option in the Pixel settings menu doesn’t mention anything about these time restrictions, so some people may not know that the feature isn’t actually working on their phone. Given Google’s penchant for shoehorning machine learning into smartphone features, it’s a surprise that it didn’t do the same with Adaptive Charging. Further, it’s a shame Google didn’t simply tie everything to when users set the alarm. To me, that seems like the easiest solution — if I set an alarm for 8am then put my phone on charge, it should hold off finishing the charge until close to the alarm going off.
Hopefully, Google removes the time restrictions on the feature in a future update. For now, though, if you use a Pixel 4 or newer and your typical sleep schedule falls outside Google’s limits, you may want to skip using the Adaptive Charging feature entirely.