Why it matters: Apple's next major iOS release could include a feature to transform iPhones into somewhat of a smart home display when not actively in use. According to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, iOS 17 will include an interface that will showcase information including the weather, notifications, and calendar appointments when an iPhone is locked and positioned in landscape mode.

Sources familiar with the project claim the feature would mimic capabilities offered by standalone products from rivals like Amazon and Alphabet, and make the iPhone more useful when propped up on a desk or sitting on your nightstand. It will utilize a dark background with bright and large text that is easy to read from a distance. If true, the feature would no doubt benefit from rumors of larger iPhones reportedly launching next year.

Apple, if you recall, introduced lock screen widgets a year ago as part of iOS 16. This new feature will build on that foundation to provide additional useful information at a glance.

A similar interface for the iPad is also said to be in development but reportedly is not as far along. That is not surprising considering Apple often lags behind in bringing iPhone features to the iPad. Home screen widgets that arrived in iOS 14 did not find their way to the iPad until iPadOS 15, and lock screen widgets from iOS 16 still are not on the iPad.

The new interface could also provide Apple with valuable data about how consumers interact with smart home displays. According to Gurman, Apple has been working on a low-cost tablet-like device designed to attach magnetically to walls and stands that serves as a smart home display capable of controlling lights and thermostats as well as showing video and conducting FaceTime calls. Progress on the project has been slow, however.

iOS 17, codenamed Dawn, is expected to be one of the starring attractions during Apple's keynote next month to kick off its annual developer conference.

Image credit: Daniel Gotteswinter