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Apple plans to turn locked iPhones into smart displays with iOS 17

Apple iPhone 14 smartphones are displayed at the company’s store in the Gangnam District of Seoul on March 31.  (SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg)
Apple iPhone 14 smartphones are displayed at the company’s store in the Gangnam District of Seoul on March 31. (SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg)
By Mark Gurman Bloomberg

Apple is planning a new interface for iPhones that shows information such as calendar appointments, the weather and notifications in the style of a smart-home display, part of a flurry of new features coming in its iOS 17 software update.

The view will appear when an iPhone is locked and positioned horizontally, operating similarly to dedicated displays offered by Alphabet’s Google and, according to people familiar with the project. The idea is to make iPhones more useful when they’re, for example, lying on a person’s desk or nightstand.

The move is part of a broader push to embed live information in more parts of the company’s software – an approach that also includes the Apple Watch’s interface. The new view is one of several changes planned for iOS 17, code-named Dawn, that will be released to consumers later in 2023. Apple plans to unveil the software alongside its mixed-reality headset at the Worldwide Developers Conference on June 5.

An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment on its plans for iOS 17.

The new iPhone interface will be similar to one that came to the Android operating system in a more basic form in 2019. Amazon also has long offered such an option on its tablets, allowing them to go into a mode that resembles the interface of its Echo Show smart-home devices.

The Apple feature will use a dark background with bright text to make it easier to read, according to the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity . It will build on the company’s launch of lock screen widgets last year as part of iOS 16, which lets users see small snippets of information – like stock tickers, news and temperature – below the time on their screen vertically.

The Cupertino, California-based company is also working on a new horizontal interface for the iPad, but it’s been slower to make major changes to that device. The new iPhone lock screen from iOS 16 isn’t yet available on iPads, and home screen widgets that were launched in iOS 14 didn’t arrive on the tablet until iPadOS 15.

Apple is exploring other ways to turn its devices into smart-home displays. That includes developing a low-cost tablet device that can magnetically attach to walls and stands, though the effort also has been slow going. That device could ultimately serve as Apple’s entry into smart-home displays. It’s designed to control things like thermostats and lights, show video and handle FaceTime chats.

As part of iOS 17, Apple is also planning significant changes to the iPhone’s Wallet app and will make enhancements to its location services. There will be a new journaling app designed to add note-taking and a stronger social element to the device.

There are health changes as well, with new features for logging your mood and coping with weak vision. And Apple is planning to bring the Health app to the iPad.

The company is also working on upgrades for SharePlay, its feature that lets users FaceTime while collaborating in apps, as well as Airplay, which beams content from Apple devices to TVs and speakers. It has held discussions with hotels and other places that offer TVs and speakers, aiming to make it easier for users to beam video and audio to devices they don’t own.

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