It looks like the iPhone 14 will bring a few changes from the iPhone 13, something we’re all for, and one thing I’d like to see is an always-on display… if Apple can break something that Manufacturers from Android apparently cannot.
An always-on display – or AOD, as the feature is commonly abbreviated – is a feature that displays important information on your phone’s screen when it’s not in use. Typically this means the time, battery percentage, and any new notifications you need to see.
The vast majority of Android manufacturers offer phones with this feature, and it’s something even Apple supports in its newer Apple Watches, although currently neither iPhones nor iPads offer it.
But if the next iPhone supports this useful tool, Apple will have to learn from Android makers.
The still active bet
When working well, always-on displays can be very useful – when they don’t work, they can be an irritating feature that I came to quickly disable. So far, I don’t think I’ve tested a phone that does this perfectly.
I have tested some which are good. Google Pixel phones, for example, have a useful feature so that if you tap a notification icon you can see additional information – this saves you having to unlock your phone to see if that WhatsApp message is an important announcement from your mom, or just the nth comment in a busy and boring group chat.
Many AODs also offer great customization – the Oppo Find X5 Pro and OnePlus 10 Pro let you create line art based on portraits and then use those sketches as your always-on display. Most other phone brands also allow you to put images, either your own photos or those from a predefined list, to create a distinctive AOD.
But there are a lot of problems that some AODs face. They can dramatically increase battery drain on some phones, and I’ve also encountered issues on many devices where they sometimes fail to charge all the time.
So far, there hasn’t been a good mix between functionality and aesthetics, and for an AOD to be perfect, it has to be both. This is where Apple could step in.
The always-on screen of the iPhone 14
Apple has clearly emphasized software functionality over the past few years, introducing widgets in iOS 14 and making them useful later. But design was also important: consider iPadOS, which was a version of iOS that makes the interface better designed for larger tablet screens, and the introduction of system-wide dark mode on desktop devices. ‘Apple.
If Apple could tap into these two points of interest, it could design an always-on display that looks good and performs well – is that too much to ask?
There’s no certainty that Apple is looking to introduce an always-on display on the iPhone 14, despite display technology changes that make it much more plausible. But it’s a surprising area where Apple hasn’t caught up with Android makers, due to the feature’s (potential) usefulness, so we’d love to see it soon… if Apple can crack the code.