Live Activities in iOS 16: All you need to know

Live Activities showing on iPhone screens running iOS 16

The iOS 16 update brings some welcoming changes to iOS. Apple introduced Home Screen widgets with iOS 14, and now, we get support for Lock Screen widgets and several other customizations. Another useful addition to iOS 16 is the Live Activities on Lock Screen and Dynamic Island.

If you’re curious as to what is Live Activities? How does it work? Which apps support Live Activities? Are Live Activities any different from the widgets on the Lock Screen? Read along to find answers to all these questions.   

Live Activities is available for iPhones running iOS 16.1 and above.

What is Live Activities in iOS 16?

According to Apple, “Live Activities is a new feature that helps users stay on top of things that are happening in real-time, such as a sports game, workout, ride-share, or food delivery order, right from the Lock Screen.” Wait, did that confuse you further? Let me break that down in simpler terms.   

For example, you order food from Grub Hub, keep your phone aside, and get back to work. Now, when you want to check the order status, Live Activities enables you to do so from the Lock Screen or Dynamic Island itself.   

The need to unlock your iPhone to check the progress of your order is eliminated. Both your time and effort are saved. Apple will also share the API of Live Activities with developers, which will help them implement this feature in their apps.   

Live Activities will be available for applications that share real-time activities such as sports scores, ride-shares (Uber, etc.), Food delivery apps, workout tracking apps, etc.

So, are Live Activities and widgets the same?

Not exactly. Live Activities use a different mechanism in comparison to widgets. The updates a Live Activity receives are through remote push notifications or from the app itself through ActivityKit. On the contrary, widgets use a timeline mechanism.

How to turn on Live Activities in iOS 16.1 or later

  1. Open the Settings app on your iPhone.
  2. Tap on Face ID & Passcode.
  3. Enter your passcode to continue.
  4. Scroll down, under Allow Access When locked, turn on switch next to Live Activities.

iPhone apps that support Live Activities

Social media

  • Apollo for Reddit – Follow real-time Reddit thread comments.
  • Aviary – Undo Tweets (up to 30 minutes) or view Tweet edits.

Sports/Workout/Outdoor activities

  • FotMob – Live soccer scores.
  • SmartGym – Show details of a workout in progress.
  • Liftin’ – Keep track of a workout with rep counts, rest timers, and more.
  • Steps – See real-time workout progress.
  • Landscape – Track your climb with real-time stats and a rolling elevation graph.
  • Slopes – Pause and resume tracking your skiing or snowboarding activity.

Productivity/multitasking

  • Calzy – Keeps track of a calculation.
  • Sticky Timers – Keep track of multiple timers simultaneously on Dynamic Island.
  • Forest – See time left on the task at hand.
  • MoneyCoach – Tracks your spending.
  • Just Press Record – Record/pause audio with one tap on Lock Screen or Dynamic Island.
  • Structured – Daily Planner – View countdown for focus timer.
  • Subjects – Students can track class schedules, homework, etc.
  • TV Remote – Gives quick access to some remote control buttons.
  • Flighty – Get details about upcoming flights three hours before departure.
  • CardPointers – Track credit card rewards.

Other fun apps

  • Carrot Weather – Check details about specific alerts, like rain, storm, etc., from Lock Screen or Dynamic Island.
  • Soor – View lyrics of currently playing Apple Music songs in real-time.
  • Pestle – Shows the current step of a recipe with a timer.
  • Crouton – Display recipe timers and steps for each recipe.
  • Lumy – Track any sun event from the Lock Screen.
  • Tide Guide – Track real-time tide height and solar or lunar altitudes.
  • PosturePal – Keeps track of posture and notifies if it is incorrect.
  • GPS Tracks – Track a route for navigation and set a waypoint.

Apple News

A new Sports category has been added to Apple News. This section will help display schedules and scores for professional and college sports. Users can add teams to their favorites and not miss out on updates. However, the Live Activity for sports feature will only be available to four countries: the USA, UK, Canada, and Australia.   

How to use Live Activities on iPhone?

The feature’s operation depends upon the app and permissions given. For instance, you’ll have to manually add your favorite team in the Sports category of Apple News. And later, you’ll auto-recieve live notifications on the Live Activities widget displayed on the Lock Screen.

In some cases, like in the Apollo for Reddit app, you’ll have to tap/toggle on the Start Live Activity button in the options menu.

FAQs

Q. Does removing a Live Activity from the Lock Screen end the original activity?

No. If you remove the Live Activity from the Lock Screen, it doesn’t end the original activity. For example, suppose you remove the Live Activity displaying the time remaining for your pizza to be delivered; it won’t cancel the order.  

Q. For how long can a Live Activity be active on the Lock Screen?  

A Live Activity can remain on the Lock Screen for a total of 12 hours. A Live Activity can run for up to eight hours unless the app or the user decides to end it. It can remain on the Lock Screen for another 4 hours in the ended state, after which the system will remove it from the Lock Screen.   

Q. Which Apple devices support Live Activities?  

The Live Activities feature is only available for the iPhone. (As of writing this article) 

With each passing day, doom scrolling has become a more common phenomenon. Unlocking one’s phone is one of the contributing factors to this. Sometimes I unlock my phone to check my order’s status but get engrossed in social media notifications, etc. I also tend to forget the primary purpose of unlocking my phone because of the several notifications I’m spammed with from apps and companies.

I believe Live Activities is an excellent addition to the iPhone’s Lock Screen. I’m glad Apple is finally becoming more flexible and allowing users to customize their Lock Screen. Let me know what your thoughts are in the comments below.

Video: New iOS 16 features coming later this year

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