Always-On Displays must be done correctly.
The iPhone 14 appears to be bringing a lot of upgrades over the iPhone 13, which we’re all for, and one feature I’d love to see is an Always-On Display… assuming Apple can figure out what Android manufacturers can’t.
An Always-On Display, or AOD for short, is a feature that displays critical information on your phone’s display when it isn’t in use. This usually refers to the time, battery %, and any fresh notifications that need to be seen.
This function is available on the great majority of Android phones, and it’s something that even Apple supports in its newer Apple Watches, but it’s not available on iPhones or iPads right now.
However, if the next iPhone does include this essential feature, Apple will have to take notes from Android developers.
The Always-On strategy
Always-On Displays can be quite useful when they operate well; when they don’t, they can be a vexing feature that I’ve learned to quickly disable. So far, I haven’t come across a phone that accomplishes it perfectly.
I’ve tried a few and found them to be effective. For example, Google Pixel phones have a handy feature that allows you to see more information about a notification icon without having to unlock your phone. This saves you from having to unlock your phone to see if that WhatsApp message is an important message from your mother or just the nth comment in a busy and boring group chat.
Many AODs allow you to create line drawings based on portrait photos, which you can then use as your always-on display. The Oppo Find X5 Pro and OnePlus 10 Pro, for example, allow you to create line drawings based on portrait photos, which you can then use as your always-on display. Most other phone manufactures allow you to use photographs to create a unique AOD, either your own or from a pre-selected selection.
However, certain AODs have a number of issues. They can dramatically increase battery drain on some phones, and I’ve also had difficulties with them failing to load all of the time on a variety of devices.
So far, there hasn’t been a decent balance of utility and aesthetics, and an AOD must be both to be excellent. This is where Apple may make a move.
The Always-On Display on the iPhone 14
In recent years, Apple has placed a strong emphasis on software functionality, introducing widgets in iOS 14 and later making them useful. Consider the introduction of system-wide dark mode to Apple’s devices, as well as iPadOS, a spin on iOS that makes the interface better designed for larger tablet screens.
Is it too much to ask if Apple could incorporate both of these areas of interest into the design of an Always-On Display that looks good and functions well?
There’s no guarantee that Apple will include an Always-On Display in the iPhone 14, despite advances in display technology making it increasingly likely. However, given the (possible) use of the function, it’s surprising that Apple hasn’t caught up to Android producers, therefore we’d want to see it soon… if Apple can crack the code.
The iPhone 14 is expected to have a price increase, but for a good reason.