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Fast Charge: Apple’s key iOS 17 feature likely won’t be available on iPad, and that’s a big problem

OPINION: With Apple’s WWDC 2023 and the reveal of iOS 17 fast approaching, leaks are becoming more significant. This week, one leak detailed the possibility of your iPhone turning into a smart display when on charge – a feature that would be perfect for the iPad, but apparently won’t be available in iPadOS 17.

The news comes from a Bloomberg report from the ever-accurate Mark Gurman so, while still technically unconfirmed, it’s more than likely a feature we will see Apple reveal at WWDC 2023. 

The reliable reporter claims that Apple is hoping to make the iPhone more functional when sat on a desk or bedside table on charge by effectively turning the iPhone into a smart display like the Google Nest Hub or Amazon Echo Show

The report claims that the user could see a range of widgets on the lock screen, allowing you to possibly control smart home devices, get the news headlines, latest weather and maybe upcoming calendar events too – though I am speculating somewhat here. Gurman does say that the interface will have a darker background to make it easier to read, and that it’ll automatically activate when locked and horizontal. 

That sounds good, but I’ve got a few questions; how many iPhone owners have a dock capable of holding the phone in a horizontal position? Is the small display of an iPhone (compared to a true smart display) enough to deliver a satisfying smart display experience? And, arguably most crucially, why isn’t there any mention of iPad support?

iPad Pro M2 no keyboard or pencil
iPad Pro 12.9 (2022). Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

Sure, Apple could release a new docking accessory for iPhones at the same time, but the iPad, logically, seems to be the better fit for a smart display system. The iPad not only has a larger display for displaying more information on screen at any given time, but also has better stereo speakers for audio playback and, importantly, already has a range of cases that prop them up in horizontal position. 

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It’s basically a product screaming for smart display functionality – a key feature of Google’s new competing Google Pixel Tablet, complete with a magnetic docking system – and yet, Gurman is unsure whether it’ll be coming to iPadOS 17 as the tablet collection doesn’t even have a customisable lock screen with widgets, a key requirement for the smart display functionality. 

Gurman writes: “The Cupertino, California-based company is also working on a new horizontal interface for the iPad, but it’s been slower to make major changes to that device. The new iPhone lock screen from iOS 16 isn’t yet available on iPads, and home screen widgets that were launched in iOS 14 didn’t arrive on the tablet until iPadOS 15.”

I’ve never been a fan of the way that iPadOS seems to get the previous year’s iOS features, but when it comes to the smart display functionality, I’m truly baffled. It seems to be the perfect option for iPads, but Apple allegedly isn’t focusing on it for now.  

So, while the smart display functionality will no doubt be a fun novelty for a subsection of iPhone users that have a horizontal dock system, I’ll be waiting for iPad support to drop, hopefully with iPadOS 18… Are you looking forward to turning your iPhone into a smart display when not in use? Let me know on Twitter.

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