iOS 16 code hints at always-on display coming to iPhone 14 Pro

There are more than a few different features that could be considered “oft-requested” for iOS. One of them, for instance, is widgets on the Lock Screen. And that’s finally happening with the impending arrival of iOS 16, which is set to launch later this fall. So, what about another one of those features iOS users have been waiting so “patiently” for, like the always-on display?

Image from Apple's YouTube video showing ProMotion technology in action, with a hand holding an iPhone 13 Pro and scrolling through a list and the title "120Hz adaptive refresh rate" overlaid on top
Image credit: Apple / YouTube

Unfortunately, Apple didn’t tell us explicitly that this is a feature the company plans to bring to a future iPhone, or even if they are working on it at all, at this year’s keynote to kick off the Worldwide Developers Conference. But it looks like the code for Apple’s next software update for iOS could be the clue that gives it all away.

9to5Mac was first to point out that the code for iOS 16 has several different references suggesting an always-on display is indeed in the works for a future iPhone. Specific frameworks –three of them to be exact– that reference backlight management all suggest the feature is in the works. The references also suggest the always-on display will be used by both the Springboard and Lock Screen.

Those last two elements tell us that these hints aren’t alluding to the Apple Watch, but rather a new iPhone. The original report also says there are flags that allow iOS engineers to use the always-on display feature for testing. Which makes sense, considering engineers would need to be testing the new feature quite a bit ahead of iOS 16’s public launch later this year.

As mentioned above, the always-on display for the iPhone has been one of the more requested features for Apple’s smartphone lineup for years. Especially ever since Apple brought the always-on display feature to the Apple Watch. And there have been plenty of rumors suggesting the feature is on the way, too.

The last we heard about it was back in May of this year. It was rumored that the iPhone 14 Pro lineup would feature an always-on display thanks, in part, to improvements made to the ProMotion display technology. According to those rumors, Apple’s new displays will be able to drop down to just 1Hz (dropping further from 10Hz), making an always-on display even more likely.

With this in mind, it’s likely that the always-on display technology is going to be one of those major features that Apple helps differentiate the pro lineup compared to the other iPhone 14 models the company plans to launch later this year. But we’ll have to wait and see how it all shakes out this fall.

Are you hoping the iPhone 14 Pro series adds an always-on display?