After the technology has been available in Android devices for years, Apple is now adding its own always-on display to iPhones for the first time. The new 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max models, which are on sale from today, can reduce their screen to 1 Hertz if desired, then only dim the time, background image, widgets and notifications, but permanently. The implementation is interesting: the always-on display does not always stay on.
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The devices first check whether it is even necessary to activate the screen. There are different routines for this. This allows the device to recognize whether it is in a pocket or lying face down on the table. In both cases, among other things, the sensor is apparently used, which also serves to deactivate the display when you hold the iPhone to your ear while making a call.
But that’s by no means the only method Apple uses to do this. If the user has an Apple Watch, its proximity is also taken as an indicator. If the owner leaves their iPhone with the watch on their wrist, it automatically sets the screen to black. This is reminiscent of functions such as using the Apple Watch to unlock the iPhone with a mask. It is also switched off when using the iPhone vehicle integration CarPlay – here the iPhone control is transferred to the car anyway, which is why an always-on display would be unnecessary.
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All this is to ensure that the always-on display does not put too much strain on the iPhone battery. Although Apple says that its use is not noticeable in practice, it seems to want to play it safe and not consume electricity unnecessarily – in addition, a permanent display would simply be unnecessary if nobody is looking at the screen.
In the meantime, it is also clear which apps can use the always-on display in the iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max, which unfortunately has not yet been configured in detail. Information from Apple Maps continues to come in, the telephony application can be operated and the voice memo app and Apple TV remote control can also be reached. It is hoped that Apple will also provide APIs for third-party apps, similar to what is supposed to be the case with the Dynamic Island.
According to Apple, there is a total eight possible scenariosin which the always-on display turns off: The iPhone is face down, it is in a bag, the sleep focus is active, the battery saving mode has been activated, the iPhone is connected to CarPlay, you are using Continuity Camera (in combination with macOS 13 Ventura), the iPhone was “not used for a while” (according to Apple, the device learns the user’s activity patterns – also based on the morning alarm and sleep settings) or the user moves with a paired Apple Watch away from the iPhone.
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