When Apple announced iOS 17 Standby Mode as one of the biggest iOS 17 features coming to the iPhone later this year, I thought about the beloved iPad mini in my backpack and knew that the arrival of Standby would also be a huge missed opportunity for Apple.
Standby mode turns your iPhone into a smart display with widget-sized clock styles, weather reports, and photo slideshows. It also acts as a hands-free Siri hub, so you can theoretically ask Apple’s voice assistant queries or control your HomeKit-enabled smart home devices with your voice.
Based on what we’ve seen, it looks like StandBy would be an intuitive way to give your iPhone more ambient usability. As indicated, StandBy is enhanced by MagSafe iPhone mounts that you place on your counter or around your home (although it seems MagSafe isn’t necessary for StandBy to do its job).
While in standby mode, your iPhone will learn about information that you might want to see at a particular time of day. If you have several MagSafe mounts around your space, your iPhone will adjust the display based on the information you prefer to see in that location as well.
It reminds me of the Google Pixel Tablet, which comes with a magnetic charging dock and speakers that easily turn the tablet into a smart home command center. I was hoping Apple would try out a tablet of its own that turned into a smart display, but instead we got it for the iPhone.
The iPhone 14 Pro Max’s 6.7-inch screen is certainly big for a smartphone, but I’m convinced Standby mode is really designed for iPadOS 17 — and not just for iOS. The 8.3-inch screen on my iPad mini 6 mirrors the size of the Echo Show 8, my favorite smart display.
For reference, the Echo Show 8 can be used as a bedside alarm clock and a touchscreen smart home controller. It’s also a place to watch videos, make video calls, and more. Since my iPad mini already goes everywhere with me, I thought it would be a great StandBy device with more versatility than my current smart display.
Could StandBy come to iPadOS?
Just because we saw an overview of iOS 17 and iPadOS 17 at WWDC 2023, it doesn’t mean that Apple has done work on new features for both versions of the software. In fact, the company has been known to save recently added OS upgrades for the arrival of devices at its annual Apple event in September.
With rumors of an iPad mini 7 debuting later this year or next spring, Apple may hold off on announcing a Standby for the iPad. It looks practical for StandBy to come to iPadOS 17 alongside a new tablet for promotional purposes, but that’s just my guess.
Of course, unless your iPad gets MagSafe, you’ll need to have a stand or a different mounting solution to complete the experience.
Otherwise, I might have to wait for a larger iPhone to create the StandBy experience I imagine. There are no rumors of a resizing iPhone 15 Pro Max, but there is an early report that the 2024 iPhone 16 family will be Apple’s largest smartphone offering yet.