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Live Activities made their debut with the release of iOS 16.1, promising a new way to get up-to-date information where users want to see it. The feature works with any iPhone that supports the latest iOS.
It differs from Dynamic Island, which only applies to the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max. Live Activity is intended as a timely lock screen notification that can cover a variety of uses, from sports scores to stock price changes to food deliveries, rideshare arrivals and more.
How to enable Live Activity on supported iPhones
- Go to Settings and down to Face ID & Passcode.
- Enter your passcode or Touch/Face ID for user verification.
- Scroll down to the Allow access when locked section and turn on the Live activity switch.
Once you grant access, apps that support live activity appear on the lock screen with real-time updates — like Starbucks, for example, letting you know when your order is ready. These notifications appear at the bottom of the screen on supported iPhones and are not yet available on other Apple devices.
You can turn Live Activity Notifications on or off for individual apps by opening Settings and scrolling down to the app in question. From there, you can toggle the Live Activities toggle on or off as you see fit.
Apple’s built-in timer feature in the Clock app is a built-in example that users can try right away. Start a timer, put the iPhone to sleep, turn it on again – and the remaining time will count down.
Likewise, the Music app and Podcasts app show progress and now-playing information on the lock screen when those apps are in use.
For iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max users, Live Activities works in conjunction with the Dynamic Island feature. This allows the updated information to be displayed in a compact or expanded area at the top of the lock screen.
Apple TV app users can “catch” a sporting event to get a live activity update on their lock screen, including score and recent games. This works for Major League Baseball games for users in a number of countries including the US, Canada, UK, Australia as well as Mexico, Brazil, Korea and Japan.
Professional basketball and soccer fans in the US and Canada can get live activity updates on followed games from the NBA and Premier League. This feature of the TV app will likely expand to more sports over time.
With the release of iOS 16.2, users can also use Spotlight to search for a game and “follow” it from the resulting info page – which triggers the Live Activity update. Updates can be disabled by searching for the game again.
Third-party apps like Flighty and Carrot Weather have already taken advantage of the feature: Flighty, for example, provides subscribers with flight updates, including any gate changes or delays, starting around three hours before a planned trip.
Carrot Weather offers its subscribers a rain/snow countdown, as well as forecast levels and duration. Just Press Record, a $5 iPhone and Apple Watch app, uses Live Activity to notify users of recording status at no extra charge.
As with Just Press Record, not all apps require an additional purchase or subscription to use Live Activity. Lyft and Uber, for example, will soon notify customers of their car’s arrival times for free via live activity.
To better showcase the variety of live activity options, we’re going to highlight a few apps that cater to specific interests. As of this writing, there are over 170 third-party apps listed that support some form of Live Activity.
fitness and sports
SmartGym is a popular third-party app that allows users to track workouts. It also offers a standalone Apple Watch app that doesn’t require you to have the iPhone with you, and that integrates with the Health app.
Fat Burn Tracker is a highly rated free weight loss workout app that helps users achieve their most efficient heart rate goals and prevent overtraining or fatigue. It works with Apple Watch Series 3 or higher and most Bluetooth heart rate monitors.
FotMob tracks soccer scores around the world but requires a modest subscription fee.
Slopes is aimed specifically at skiing and snowboarding enthusiasts, while Landscape: Mountaineering is for hikers and others exploring backcountry and mountain regions.
MoneyCoach is a well-rated but expensive money tracking and management app that syncs transactions between devices, including the ability to import Apple Card and other credit card statements.
Goodtask works with both iCloud and Outlook calendars and reminders, and is highly rated for its optional $10-a-year subscription.
Cardpointers is an app that allows users to track credit card rewards. It helps users maximize rewards by reminding them which card to use at a particular store or online site, and can help users find cards that better fit their rewards needs and shopping habits.
Other apps that support Live Activity
Bookly provides stats and timers when you open a book to read on your device, and also helps users manage their “to read” lists. It offers optional add-on features for a monthly, semi-annual, or annual subscription.
Marvis Pro provides widgets, live activity or dynamic island information, and lock screen controls for what’s playing on Apple Music or from the music library. It’s donationware, with Last.fm support for a $5 in-app purchase.
Pestle helps users collect, organize, customize, and execute recipes, either online or even handwritten. It offers monthly or yearly subscriptions or a single “lifetime” in-app purchase.
Coffee Book is a caffeine tracker, brew diary and barista trainer for coffee lovers. The brew timer is displayed in Live Activities or the Dynamic Island, depending on the iPhone.
Booby Track is for breastfeeding moms, tracking feeds and providing useful reminders to new moms right from the lock screen. It is a five star free app that does not track users or send data back.