Apple finally brought an always-on display to the iPhone earlier this month, with the iPhone 14 Pro – and now we’re discovering it can do much more than was first revealed.
During the launch of the iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max, Apple demonstrated how the always-on display shows your wallpaper and notifications, as well as the time, date, and information presented by the new lock screen widgets system of iOS 16.
But there’s actually much more to it than that. Early reviews have revealed how a whole host of Apple’s own applications show information via the always-on display.
For example, Apple Maps shows the next navigation instruction, as well as the distance and estimated arrival time, but not the map itself. The interface of other apps, like Phone and Voice Memos, also changes when the iPhone 14 Pro is locked, showing less to protect battery life but still giving the user an idea of what the app is doing.
Even better is how the always-on display shows buttons to control content on an Apple TV. These controls are usually found in the Control Center section of the iOS interface, but if you open them and lock the iPhone 14 Pro, the always-on display continues to show the key buttons.
These include the central select button and surrounding directional controls, plus others for skipping content forwards or backwards. That way, a locked iPhone 14 Pro with its always-on display enabled can be used as an Apple TV remote, no unlocking or swiping required.
In a bid to save battery life, the always-on display dims the screen to a lower brightness, removes many interface items and reduces the refresh rate to just 1Hz, meaning it refreshes only once per second. That’s still plenty for these applications though, and means even the Voice Memos app can show a recording duration increasing by the second.
What we’re interested to see next is how third-party apps will work with the always-on display. Having our Sonos or Philips Hue apps running on the display of a locked iPhone, like the Apple TV controls do, could be really useful, acting as a quick way to adjust music or lighting without first waking or unlocking the phone.