Apple is gearing up to announce loads of new hardware and software products at WWDC 2023 next month. While all eyes are on the company’s upcoming AR/VR headset, we’re quite excited to see what Apple has in store for us in terms of software updates. While some details about iOS 17 have already surfaced, reputed leaker Mark Gurman has spilled the beans about a new smart home mode coming to the iPhone with upcoming software update.
According to the report, Apple’s new feature in iOS 17 will turn the iPhone into a smart home display. When not in use and positioned in the horizontal orientation, iPhone will show a new interface with important things like weather, calendar events, important notifications, and more, allowing the device to serve as a smart home hub, essentially.
The interface will feature a dark background with bright text and will even make use of the lock screen widgets that were added to the iPhone with iOS 16. This could allow easier access to apps and Apple might even add support for larger widgets in horizontal orientation to showcase important stuff such as emails. It will come in handy when you plug in your iPhone to charge on your bedside wireless charger or desk, similar to what you would see on some of the best smart home devices, like an Echo Show or Google Nest Hub.
It seems that the feature will rely on the always-on display technology that Apple introduced with the iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max last year. Currently, the always-on display mode shows time, a dimmed version of the wallpaper, new notifications, and lock screen widgets. This new mode, however, is said to work only in horizontal orientation and provide even more contextual information.
Google already offers a similar feature on its Pixel smartphone (shown above). When used with the Pixel Stand, Pixel users have an option to showcase a slideshow of their photos or show other relevant information. The company even offers “At a Glance” widget that shows the users relevant info on their lock screen as well as home screen.
Is this an early indication of a new iPad-smart home device?
This is not where it ends: In addition to making iPhone a smart home hub, the company is also developing a similar feature for iPad. Similar to how Google Pixel Tablet is both a smart speaker as well as a fully functional tablet, Apple is said to be developing a magnetic mount for the iPad that will allow it to attach to other things.
Once attached to this mount, users will be able to configure the iPad to show the new interface, allowing them to convert the Apple tablet into a digital photo slideshow, a hub to show information updates, and a device that provide easy access to smart home controls. With growing number of smart home devices in our households and Matter becoming more widely available, these features start to make a lot of sense.
In addition to a new smart home mode, iOS 17 is rumored to bring a brand-new Journal app, changes to Wallet app, and improved SharePlay and AirPlay. We could also see some new MacBooks making their debut at the company’s next event. Hopefully, we will get more official information when Apple kicks off its WWDC 2023 next month.
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