Apple opens lock screen to brands with ‘Live Activities’ on iOS

Move over Widgets. Apple just opened a prime piece of real estate to brands - the iPhone lock screen.

Apple has unveiled its latest iOS16.1 update, including Live Activities, which lets brands gain more visibility and bring greater value to consumers through their mobile apps.

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”.

Apple is sharing the API of Live Activities with developers, which will help them implement this feature in their apps. However, unlike Widgets, Live Activities use a different mechanism, received through remote push notifications or from the app itself through ActivityKit. By contrast, widgets use a timeline mechanism.

For example, if a user orders food from Grub Hub in the US, Live Activities enables the user to monitor its delivery progress on the lock screen itself without constantly having to sign in.

One example of the new tool in action comes from meal planning and recipe app Crouton, which is now using Live Activities and the ‌Dynamic Island‌ (a new pill-shaped area on the ‌iPhone‌ for key ‌iPhone‌ alerts) to display recipe timers and steps for each recipe so users can follow along without having to open up the app.

Meanwhile, a new Live Activity for sports feature has been added to Apple News. Initially available to four countries when it launches (the USA, UK, Canada and Australia), the feature lets users add teams to their favourites and not miss out on updates.

“A whole new way for brands to serve their best customers”

Mike Herric,k SVP of Technology at Airship said: “Today, the world’s most valuable commercial real estate — smartphone lock screens — just got more interesting and impactful for brands and customers. Live Activities, one of the key features of Apple’s latest iOS 16.1 update, offers the most visible user experience ever on iPhones, supporting a vast range of real-time use cases and sectors such as retail, tourism, fitness, entertainment, and publishing, among others.

"Brands now no longer need to send multiple notifications to inform customers of the progress of an order, the latest on a ride-share arrival or the developments of a breaking news. Live Activities allows information to be pinned and dynamically updated on lock screens for up to eight hours at a time. All information is available at a glance, bringing a whole new way for brands to serve their best customers with compelling app experiences they can control even as they are using other apps.”

"Makes it even easier for customers to follow the games that matter"

Football app FotMob is one of the first mobile apps to provide a compelling Live Activities experience to its users.

Christer Nordvik, CEO at FotMob, said: “The speed with which we connect people to the teams, players and standings they care about is absolutely critical, as no one is more passionate than a sports fan. With Airship’s help, FotMob is among the first on the pitch to provide a compelling Live Activities experience with lightning-fast updates that make it even easier for customers to follow the games that matter to them.”