The most interesting feature of iOS 17 is the bedside alarm mode

  • StandBy (aka Nightstand Mode) turns your iPhone into a bedside alarm clock or status card.
  • It also shows Live View widgets in full screen.
  • The feature seems too comprehensive just to use on the iPhone.

An iPhone running iOS 17 in standby mode (also known as nightstand mode).


The best new feature in iOS 17 isn’t the new live voicemail transcripts, interactive widgets, or even new system-wide stickers. No, the most interesting addition is the new StandBy mode suitable for the bedside table.

StandBy (aka Nightstand Mode) turns your iPhone into an alarm clock, clock radio, or calendar. But it’s not just for sleeping (and waking up again). iOS 17 StandBy can take up your entire iPhone display every time you plug it in, making it a useful status card, as we’ll see in a moment. StandBy also gets a set of developer tools for integrating it with other hardware, which makes us think that Apple might even have a standalone version of the Home Hub up its sleeve. Let’s take a look.

“StandBy is really cool, and it’s like ‘a little OS within an OS’ because it’s full of little quality-of-life features,” top tech writer Muhammed Abdulhadi told Lifewire via email. “It has its own music playing interface and really smooth animations, you can still access your control center from it and when you click on a widget that opens an app when you lock the screen, it immediately goes back to StandBy mode.”

Your bedside companion for iPhone

Using StandBy is a typical Apple experience. You just put your iPhone on a charger in landscape orientation and it turns on. It is the same as the Nightstand mode of the Apple Watch. Well, that part is the same. Unlike the clock version, StandBy is super customizable. And unlike the lame faces of the Apple Watch, the StandBy options are all beautiful.

The clock and calendar are displayed in iOS 17 standby mode.


You can choose to display a classic clock and calendar or one of several other analog and digital clock faces. But you can also choose to view the widgets in full screen. This lets you use the iPhone as an environmental status card during the day. You could put your to-do list there. Or use it to show the cover art of the currently playing song, along with play/pause and skip controls. Or view the results of a Siri request.

And there’s one more thing. StandBy supports live activities. For example, let’s say you’ve ordered a pizza and the pizza shop app supports live activity, showing you the progress of your delicious order on your lock screen widget. If you use StandBy, that widget will pop up full screen on your phone in the dock, allowing you to track PTA (pizza arrival time) with a glance.

It’s a nice trick, but one that Apple seems to have put an extraordinary amount of work into. For example, if you have several MagSafe charging docks in your home or office, you can set a different default dock display for each one. The phone recognizes the dock by its MagSafe ID and changes accordingly, so you can have a bedside clock and podcasts in the kitchen, for example.

iOS 17 StandBy beyond the nightstand

If you’re using an iPhone with an always-on display (currently the iPhone 14 Pro models), the StandBy display will stay on. If you have another iPhone, you’ll need to tap it to wake up the display, which seems odd given that StandBy only works when the phone is plugged in to power. And when the room is dark, StandBy detects it and switches the display to red so as not to strain your eyes.

iOS 17 standby mode displayed on an iPhone on a desk.


But that is not all. Not even close. Apple has also developed DockKit, a set of tools that allows developers to create motorized stands for iPhones. This is meant for use while taking photos and videos, but it’s easy to see how it could work for StandBy as well.

Placed on a motorized stand, your phone could follow you around the room so it’s always facing you. Or he might only turn to you when you get a FaceTime call. This brings us to a curiously obvious hole in Apple’s lineup: a home hub with a screen.

StandBy is really cool and is like “a little OS within an OS” because it’s full of little quality-of-life features.

“This is almost as smart as a trojan horse to fight all the Alexa and Google hubs out there. If Apple can turn an iPhone into a true home hub device, it can tell its huge base of iPhone customers that they don’t need to buy an Alexa/Google to do the same thing!” The iPhone user and StandBy fan said TheKDub in a MacRumors forum thread attended by Lifewire.

Take another look at what StandBy can do, then imagine it on a HomePod with a screen. It’s a clock and music player, it can show you the feed from your front door camera, track your pizza delivery, and make FaceTime calls that follow you around the room.

All the pieces are in place. It just needs an elegant aluminum and plastic box to keep them.

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