Rumor: iOS 17’s new nightstand mode turns iPhone into a smart display

The rumored nightstand-like mode in iOS 17 could automatically display information tidbits like stocks, weather and news when an iPhone is positioned horizontally.

Young man holding an iPhone 12 Pro Max in front of his work desk. In the background, there's a monitor using the Big Sur wallpaper and Apple's space gray keyboard and trackpad
iOS 17 may bring smart display functions to iPhone | Image: Jonas Leupe/Unsplash
  • A rumored new feature in iOS 17 might mimic the nightstand mode on Apple Watch by displaying the weather, upcoming events and other information.
  • Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman claims that this new interface automatically appears when the user puts their iPhone into a horizontal (landscape) orientation.
  • The idea, said sources familiar with the feature, is to make Apple’s smartphone more useful when lying dormant on a desk, charger or nightstand.

Nightstand-like mode coming to iPhone with iOS 17

This new feature is similar to smart display-like modes already available on Android and Amazon tablets. The Apple feature will take advantage of Lock Screen widgets to display small snippets of information from compatible apps.

It will reportedly use a contrasting interface with bright text on a dark background to make it easier to discern information. And with landscape widgets, glanceable updates will appear below the time when your phone is in landscape mode.

The same interface will be available on the iPad with iPadOS 17.

A nightstand-like mode for the iPhone may have been considered as far back as 2017 when an Apple fan asked Craig Federighi, the company’s software engineering boss, about the utility of an Apple Watch-like nightstand mode on the iPhone.

Craig acknowledged the idea by confirming, “This is definitely something we’ve considered.” He went on to add that such a feature would make the most sense for those “who charge iPhone in a dock that tilts up the phone.”

A cheap iPad as a smart home dashboard

Mark Gurman, Bloomberg:

Apple is exploring other ways to turn its devices into smart-home displays. That includes developing a low-cost tablet device that can magnetically attach to walls and stands, though the effort also has been slow going.

Gurman’s earlier report contains additional information about this rumored docking accessory for the iPad that would act as a smart home hub.

That device could ultimately serve as Apple’s entry into smart-home displays. It’s designed to control things like thermostats and lights, show video and handle FaceTime chats.

He also said Apple might release a gadget that would combine its Apple TV and HomePod and integrate a camera for calls and another one resembling an iPad mounted on a robotic arm that’d follow you as you wandered around the room.

Other major publications have yet to corroborate Gurman’s reporting.

SharePlay and AirPlay improvements in iOS 17

Gurman also mentioned other alleged improvements in iOS 17:

The company is also working on upgrades for SharePlay, its feature that lets users FaceTime while collaborating in apps, as well as AirPlay, which beams content from Apple devices to TVs and speakers. It has held discussions with hotels and other places that offer TVs and speakers, aiming to make it easier for users to beam video and audio to devices they don’t own.

Even though iOS 17 is said to focus on improving reliability and performance, there will still be a flurry of new iPhone features when the update drops this fall.

Apple will previous iOS 17 alongside iPadOS 17, macOS 14, tvOS 17, watchOS 10 and xrOS, its rumored new augmented and virtual reality platform, at its weeklong annual developer pilgrimage, WWDC, which runs June 5-9 this year.