It’s likely too late to talk about Standby Mode now that iOS 17 has been out for a few months. But the beauty of writing a thousand words or less means I can throw out a quip and not regret it.
I hadn’t had a chance to play with Standby Mode until the last few weeks. I attempted using it on my nightstand at night, but any movement would fire up the red-on-black-themed display. That theme is great for dark environments, but I still prefer pitch black at night. The result was Standby Mode being put on standby until I had a proper desk stand for use during the day.
Last week, that stand came and I finally had a chance to put Standby Mode to proper use.
Side note: The Ugmonk Gather Desk Organizer is fantastic. The organizer comes with a magnetic baseplate, note tray, pen tray, and MagSafe iPhone stand, perfect for Standby Mode throughout the day. I’ll talk more about the desk organizer in the future.
You can create widget stacks in Standby Mode, just like the iOS and iPadOS Home Screen, and so I’ve created two different widget stacks:
- The Clock widget stacked on top of a Spark mail widget noting the number of new emails in my inbox. I’ve also toyed with adding a Fantastical schedule widget to this stack, though this hasn’t stuck for me.
- A few different Carrot Weather widgets for tracking hourly and weekly forecasts and the local radar.
I’m impressed with a couple things in Standby Mode.
Perhaps Standby Mode’s best feature is how well it eliminates distraction. If you have the iPhone sitting on a charger vertically, by default you’ll see your Lock Screen complete with your notifications and Lock Screen widgets. Anytime a new notification comes in, the screen lights up to let you know something arrived. In Standby Mode, notifications show up on-screen, but disappear after a few moments and return to your custom widget stacks. Nothing stays on-screen notifying you missed something.
In a way, Standby Mode is like a “Focus Mode 0.5” — it’s like a focus mode, but with full notification settings that appear when they come in then stay hidden until you physically go looking for them.
I also appreciate the onboard machine learning to know when to switch between widgets in custom widget stacks. Last week, I noticed it started to snow in the window behind me, and almost immediately Standby Mode flipped the weather widget stack to Carrot Weather’s radar widget showing the direction of the coming snowstorm. This was the best example I’ve seen yet of smart rotations in widget stacks.
Standby Mode isn’t perfect, though. My one main hiccup is the “Now Playing” screen. We have a HomePod mini in the office which plays throughout the day. The rest of our staff don’t tend to turn on the HomePod themselves, so I’ll often fire up the music from my desk. I really enjoying controlling playback from my iPhone in Standby Mode. But there are numerous times where the Now Playing button simply doesn’t appear, or the iPhone thinks the music is paused while it’s still playing. This probably isn’t a Standby Mode hiccup, but I notice it when in Standby Mode for sure.
Standby Mode is awesome and I love having it available as a Focus Mode 0.5 or Focus Mode mini, popping up notifications or notifying me of an incoming phone call, only to put those notifications hidden away until I actually grab my phone and go looking. I’ve noticed a near immediate impact to my productivity since using Standby Mode each day and noticed at least an extra one or two flow states each working day.