Concept: It’s high time to supercharge the iPhone lock screen

The iPhone lock screen has had a few design changes over the years, but it’s never really been supercharged. With iOS 5, Apple improved the way multiple notifications appear. In iOS 6, they introduced the persistent camera shortcut. In iOS 8, notifications got a quick response. iOS 10 brought widgets with a quick swipe left. The last major change came with iOS 11, when Apple added two haptic shortcuts and merged the lock screen with the notification center to make way for the “cover sheet”. But here we are in 2022 and the lock screen still isn’t really customizable. It’s also nowhere near as proactive as other areas of the operating system that have been upgraded over the years.

Redesigned clocks

The clock at the top of the lock screen has remained nearly the same since Apple switched to San Francisco font in 2015 with iOS 9. It’s still digital and has no visual flourishes. Personally, I’m a fan of a minimalist aesthetic but it has no personality. This becomes more apparent when you look at the watch faces that the same team designs for Apple Watch. They are capable of much more.

There’s a lot they could do here, but I’m going to suggest two models. A new analog clock of impeccable simplicity. It could just float above your notifications and change color based on your wallpaper. The digital clock could be switched to San Francisco Rounded to give it a subtle new look, while the date underneath could be completely capitalized with increased kerning. These have a more modern and pleasing aesthetic.

Customizable shortcuts

This is something people have been asking for for a long time now. But, I think there is a very Apple-like solution to the problem that minimizes clutter and customization. Apple isn’t a fan of letting users really customize their devices, so I doubt the company will ever allow users to launch a third-party app from the lock screen using these shortcuts. What I can see them doing is allowing you to swap the camera and flashlight shortcuts for other control center modules.

I would also suggest that they add the ability to show four shortcuts on the lock screen instead of two. Two is very limited for power users who want quick access to certain features on their iPhone. In the example below, you can see shortcuts to Apple TV Remote, Low Power Mode, AirPlay, Focus Modes, Fitness Ringtones, HomeKit, and a Timer.

Proactive widgets

Widgets are great on the iPhone home screen, but they could be used in more places. What if notifications could bring up widgets for proactive alerts? The weather app could give you quick access to an hourly forecast widget if it warns you that it’s about to start raining. When you receive a calendar event alert, your iPhone can show you more meetings that are part of your day.

These widgets could be nested inside notification modules right on the lock screen in line with the others. And there would be no need to change their design from the developers. They fit perfectly.

Always-on display mode

One feature that iOS lacks is an always-on display mode. Android devices have had it for years, but it’s finally time for Apple to match them. They have amazing screens in the latest iPhones that are capable of variable refresh rates. An always-on display was rumored for the iPhone 13 family but did not materialize.

An always-on screen for iPhone really only needs to show the time, date, battery, network indicators, and lock status. Apple could add notifications here, but the way iOS handles notifications would likely force your device to constantly update the display with content. It could be a battery discharge.

morning summary

Your iPhone can currently offer you a summary of notifications at the end of your day. The company is even redesigning this UI in iOS 15.2, which is in active development. I offer a Morning Digest that could pile on the widgets your iPhone thinks you look at frequently. Some of you might just want to let your iPhone show weather and events persistently. But that clutters the experience. They really only need to appear when you absolutely need them. By combining the Morning Digest with proactive widget notifications, they’ll be there whenever you need them and never when you don’t.


What do you think of some of our iPhone lock screen ideas? Let us know in the comments below.

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