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.

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.   

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 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.   

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.

When will Live Activities be available on iPhone?

Apple announced Live Activities with iOS 16 at WWDC 2022. The developer beta and the public beta of the iOS 16 have been out for a while, but Live Activities was made available in developer beta 4. As of writing this article, the only implementation of Live Activities is visible with music preview while playing music on iPhones running iOS 16.   

Apple has confirmed that the ActivityKit and Live Activities won’t be available in the first public build of iOS 16. It will be available later this year.  

Apple certainly doesn’t like to tarnish its good reputation for launching unpolished features, which might be another reason this feature is not available yet. We’ve seen this happen before (remember Universal Control) when Apple released a feature at a later date and not with the stable iOS version rollout.   

Which iOS apps will support Live Activities? 

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. The one and only implementation of Live activities that is already live is Music Preview on the Lock Screen of iOS 16.   

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 when the feature launches: the USA, UK, Canada, and Australia.   

How to use Live Activities on iPhone?

The Live Activities feature is finally available in the iOS 16 beta 4. So, while we have some information, not all details are available. With the information we have, I suppose a Live Activity widget will be activated by push notification or ActivityKit. It will receive updates through the same medium and display them on the Lock Screen.

The features operation will depend 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.

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.

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) 

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