Nope, we didn’t get a smart display during Apple’s WWDC keynote on Monday, but we did get a new iOS 17 feature that brings smart display-type features to an iPhone lock screen.
Rumored just weeks ago but unveiled officially today, StandBy is an iOS 17 feature that snaps on when your iPhone is locked, charging, and positioned horizontally.
The mode is essentially an expansion of the Lock Screen widgets that came to the iPhone last year with iOS 16, except the widgets delivered by StandBy offer more of a “full-screen experience,” similar to that of a smart display.
Among the widgets available in StandBy mode include a variety of clock faces, calendars, weather, Apple Music playback, and photos from the Photos app.
Most interesting to smart home users is a widget that shows the status of various HomeKit devices, such as smart bulbs and locks.
StandBy also supports the Smart Stacks and Live Activities introduced with iOS 16, as well as incoming calls and Siri.
When StandBy is enabled, you can view the display by tapping on your iPhone’s screen, or the display can be always-on if you have an iPhone 14 Pro.
It’s not clear how interactive StandBy mode is. For its part, Apple says StandBy offers “glanceable information designed to be viewed from a distance,” as opposed to a true smart display with on-screen buttons that you can tap.
Still, iOS 17’s StandBy is as close as we’ve seen to an actual Apple smart display, and if the rumors are to be believed, it’s as close as we’ll get for quite some time.
Ben has been writing about technology and consumer electronics for more than 20 years. A PCWorld contributor since 2014, Ben joined TechHive in 2019, where he covers smart speakers, soundbars, and other smart and home-theater devices. You can follow Ben on Twitter.