Two weeks with Apple’s new StandBy feature

Apple's answer to the smart display

Alongside iOS 17 comes ‘Standby,’ a new iPhone feature I’ve grown to love since the release of the iOS 17 public beta a few weeks ago. Standby is activated when an iPhone is charging wired or wirelessly on its side horizontally. This new docked mode turns your full screen into a smart display showcasing a variety of widgets.

You’ll see a full-screen clock, a slideshow of photos (though your handset needs to be unlocked to do this), and Smart Stacks showing widgets on both the left and right side. These Smart Stacks include calendar options, stocks, analogue clocks and more.

StandBy also supports Live Activities, Siri, incoming calls and viewing large notifications. And if you’re using an iPhone 14 Pro with an Always-On display, you’ll always see what you need when you look at your smartphone.

How I use StandBy

I’ve been using StandBy for the past couple of weeks, and I’ve really enjoyed it. I have the Belkin 2-in-1 MagSafe Charging Mount for iPhone and AirPods that was featured in the commercial and all of the ads for StandBy. This charging mount is perfect and a great height. However, I only just started using the charger.

Before getting the Belkin 2-in-1, I’d place the iPhone 14 Pro on a regular wireless charger stand. I put my iPhone on the charger before going to bed and when I’m relaxing for the night. If I need to text someone, I use my iPad mini, which I typically read on.

While in StandBy mode, I typically have the iPhone set to clock mode, but occasionally have it in Smart Stack with an analogue clock on one side and the for the weather. This is perfect for when I wake up in the morning and want to know the weather and time, though it sometimes takes me a few extra seconds to understand an analogue clock.

I often like to get in the zone while creative writing and when reading, so I use StandBy’s Siri functions to play music, similar to how I would use an Echo device or a smart speaker. There’s also a new feature that allows you to activate Siri just by saying “Siri,” making the process even easier. You can keep saying commands in succession without needing to reactivate the assistant. This is useful when I’m tired of listening to a song and tell Siri to skip multiple tracks.

It’s also great that when you turn off your lights, the StandBy font turns red and darker, making the feature usable while trying to sleep. I have it set so that if the iPhone detects motion, it changes back to the regular mode. This is great for someone like myself who often wakes up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom.

Apple Smart Display

None of this is necessarily unique and are features several smart displays have offered for a few years. However, I didn’t need to buy a smart display or a special dock to take advantage of StandBy’s features; I’m just using my iPhone 14 Pro Max turned sideways. This is what’s so great about StandBy, its accessibility.

If you have any iPhone newer than an iPhone SE (2nd-Gen) or iPhone XR, you’re able to use the feature and don’t need to buy additional hardware.

You won’t get the Always On features unless you’re using an iPhone 14 Pro/iPhone 14 Pro Max, but you’ll still get StandBy Mode and the ability to activate Siri with just your voice.

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