Apple likes to keep the specifics of its upcoming products quiet until launch day, but features have to be planned months in advance, and sometimes a few clues slip through the cracks.
A discovery from the latest iOS 16 beta release gives us a huge spoiler as to how Apple plans to implement an always-on display in an upcoming device. Alternate versions of the stock wallpapers were found in hidden system files, tagged under ‘sleep’. That implies a new sleep mode that uses background graphics of some kind.
Many Android phones already offer always-on displays, keeping the time and a few optional widgets available over a black screen even when the device is asleep. But Apple’s solution seems to go the extra mile, with the alternate wallpapers keeping some flair and customization on screen even when idle. If you have a recent Apple Watch, you’ll know that’s exactly how the always-on screen is handled there too.
The sleep wallpapers seem to be muted, low-brightness versions of the standard designs, which should help conserve battery. Presumably, there will be a sleep filter that gets applied to custom wallpapers, too.
Here’s an example of a muted sleep wallpaper, as discovered by 9to5Mac. You can see it’s not just a darker version of the original, but more monotoned as well.
Which devices will get the capability remains to be seen, although it’s strongly suspected to be an exclusive feature for the iPhone 14 Pro and not available on the regular iPhone 14. That’s because the Pro model looks set to boast a new screen that can drop its refresh rate as low as 1Hz per second, which consumes very little power.