StandBy might just be the killer iOS 17 feature, but only if you have an iPhone 14 Pro

StandBy on iOS 17
(Image credit: Apple)

iOS 17 was just revealed at WWDC 2023, and it’s a more muted update to the iPhone’s operating system than the huge improvements to your Lock Screen in iOS 16. iOS 17 has improved communication apps such as Messages, FaceTime, and Phone, alongside a new Journal app, mental health check-ins on the Health app, and much more. But the killer feature of iOS 17, for me, is StandBy, a way of turning your iPhone into a dedicated smart hub on your desk or bedside table.

I’ve been using StandBy since iOS 17 developer beta 1 dropped after the keynote on June 5, and even in its in-development state, I can see real promise for this feature. So, what is StandBy exactly?

Think of your iPhone as a widget hub, like the ones you use on your Home Screen, but in landscape and only when connected to a charger. It’s Apple’s idea of a smart hub when your phone is on charge and on its side, allowing you to control your Homekit-enabled smart lights, check the time, and keep track of sports scores all in one place. It’s pretty nifty, and I’ve been enjoying using my iPhone as a dedicated clock and weather widget while working at my desk.

iOS 17

(Image credit: Apple)

It’s a new way to use your iPhone, opting to have your device as an information hub rather than a scrolling temptation while sitting at your desk, and I can’t wait to see what developers do with StandBy to make it even more useful. Seeing an RSS feed or an Apollo Reddit thread in landscape would be very cool and something I’d use more often than not. StandBy is a massive boost for any iPhone charging stand, as it essentially requires a nice stand to use the feature to its full potential. That means products like the Anker 737 MagGo Charger are even better thanks to one of, if not the headline feature of iOS 17.

The fully customizable experience also allows Live Activities and notifications to shine with beautiful full-screen pop-ups taking advantage of the iPhone 14 Pro’s Always-On-Display. 

And, maybe it’s hinting at a future where all iPhones have Always-On-Displays, because, at the moment, if you own anything other than a 14 Pro, StandBy is kind of…meh.

Own an iPhone 14? StandBy misses the mark

StandBy on iPhone 13 mini

(Image credit: John-Anthony Disotto)

Imagine this; you’ve got a glanceable set of widgets with all the information you want to quickly look up and see while typing away at your desk or cooking in the kitchen. Then you go to do it, and you just see a blank screen because StandBy switches off on all devices without an Always-On-Display.

Now, you have to decide between washing your hands of raw chicken to check a notification or waiting until you’ve finished cooking. It makes StandBy pointless on older devices because you have to interact with the display to see the widgets, and at that point, you might as well just pick up your iPhone 

At first, I thought it was a bit of a misstep by Apple, but then I wondered about battery consumption and how charging a device with a display that is unable to reduce down to a low-power state, would cause your iPhone to get very hot and potentially reduce the shelf life of your battery.

It’s nice of Apple to include the feature on all devices that can run iOS 17, but there should be an option (hopefully, the company adds it) to keep your display on at all times, even if it’s not in a low-power state.

Without an option like this, StandBy is one of those features you’ll use once on an older device and never again. For those of us who own an iPhone 14 Pro or are looking to buy an iPhone 15 Pro later this year, StandBy could become one of the most used iOS 17 features, and I can’t wait to see how it evolves.

John-Anthony Disotto
How To Editor

John-Anthony Disotto is the How To Editor of iMore, ensuring you can get the most from your Apple products and helping fix things when your technology isn’t behaving itself.

Living in Scotland, where he worked for Apple as a technician focused on iOS and iPhone repairs at the Genius Bar, John-Anthony has used the Apple ecosystem for over a decade and prides himself in his ability to complete his Apple Watch activity rings.

John-Anthony has previously worked in editorial for collectable TCG websites and graduated from The University of Strathclyde where he won the Scottish Student Journalism Award for Website of the Year as Editor-in-Chief of his university paper. He is also an avid film geek, having previously written film reviews and received the Edinburgh International Film Festival Student Critics award in 2019. 

John-Anthony also loves to tinker with other non-Apple technology and enjoys playing around with game emulation and Linux on his Steam Deck.

In his spare time, John-Anthony can be found watching any sport under the sun from football to darts, taking the term “Lego house” far too literally as he runs out of space to display any more plastic bricks, or chilling on the couch with his French Bulldog, Kermit. 

  • Annie_M
    This feature really stood out for me during the keynote.
  • scruffypig said:
    iOS 17 adds lots to the iPhone, including StandBy, a landscape widget hub. But it kind of sucks on iPhones without an Always-On-Display.

    StandBy might just be the killer iOS 17 feature, but only if you have an iPhone 14 Pro : Read more

    Well, I have an iPhone 14 Pro, so?
  • Just_Me_D
    Worked like a charm last night