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This iOS 17 feature may turn your iPhone into the perfect office desk or kitchen companion

With the upcoming update, the iPhone will reportedly get a feature popularized by Android and Amazon's tablets.
Written by June Wan, Technology Editor on
June Wan/ZDNET

Apple's WWDC event is just weeks away, and while most of the fanfare stems from the much-anticipated AR/VR headset, a new report from Bloomberg has me excited about what's next for the iPhone.

According to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, the upcoming iOS 17 version will introduce a smart display feature, turning a locked, horizontally-positioned iPhone into a glanceable window of useful information. That includes the weather, calendar appointments, notifications, and more. 

Also: Every Apple product we're expecting at WWDC 2023

Much like the iPhone 14 Pro's Always-On Display, this new feature should give iPhones more practicality, even when they're not in use. It's a trend we're seeing more of from Android tablets like Google and Amazon, making the most of devices when left idle.

While I'm excited that Apple is thinking beyond the standard use cases of a smartphone, I have a few questions about this rumored smart display feature.

1. How will the feature affect battery life?

When ZDNET's Jason Hiner and I reviewed the iPhone 14 Pro last year, we agreed that the new Always-On Display was sipping battery like it had been stranded in a desert for the longest time. 

Apple's patched up the feature over the coming months, including updating it so that the screen completely dims out when inactive, but the question still stands with the new smart display setting and how it affects battery life.

Also: iPhone 14 Pro packs a lot more innovation for the same price as last year

With the iPhone passively displaying more information than ever (and updating it in the background), I wouldn't be surprised if the device takes a hit to its endurance. Perhaps there will be an ambient setting that only turns on the screen when it detects a person nearby, but even that would put a toll on the device's battery.

However, there is a simple fix to this, which leads me to my second question.

2. Will there be a dock accessory?

MagSafe-compatible charging docks are nothing new, but Apple has a golden opportunity here to create an accessory of its own for the new smart display feature -- one that's rotatable and naturally positions the iPhone in landscape orientation and will keep the device charged when stationed.

Also: Best MagSafe accessories for your iPhone

I don't expect the smart display setting to be supported by older iPhones (anything before the iPhone 12 series) since the feature likely requires a larger screen to actually be usable. But that may as well be music to Apple's ears because the iPhone 12 models and above all support MagSafe charging.

For more coverage of Apple's upcoming WWDC event, stay tuned to ZDNET for all things news, reviews, and analysis on the week of June 5th.

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