The best live activities in iOS 16.1

The best live activities in iOS 16.1

Live Activities debuted with the release of iOS 16.1, promising a new way to get updated information where users want to see it. The feature works with all iPhones that support the latest iOS.


It is different from Dynamic Island, which is only for iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max. Live Activities is intended as a timely notification on the lock screen that can cover a wide range of uses, from sports score updates to stock price changes to food deliveries to ride share arrivals and much more.

How to turn on Live Activities on supported iPhones

  1. Go to Settings, and down to Face ID & Passcode.
  2. Enter your password or Touch/Face ID for user verification.
  3. Scroll down to the “Allow access when locked” section and turn on the live activities switch.

When you grant access, apps that support Live Activities will appear on the lock screen with real-time updates—like Starbucks notifying you 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.

How to activate Live Activities
How to activate Live Activities

You can turn Live Activities notifications on or off for individual apps by opening Settings and scrolling down to the app in question. There you can turn the “Live Activities” switch on or off as desired.

Apple’s built-in timer feature in the Clock app is a built-in example that users can try out immediately. Start a timer, put your iPhone to sleep, turn it back on, and the remaining time will count down.

Similarly, the Music app and the Podcast app will display progress and current playback information on the lock screen when these apps are in use.

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For iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max users, Live Activities work together with the Dynamic Island feature. This means that the updated information is displayed at the top of the lock screen, in a compact or expanded area.

Dynamic Island is only available on iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max for now
Dynamic Island is only available on iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max for now

Users of the Apple TV app can “follow” a sporting event to get a Live Activity update on the lock screen, including scores and recent plays. 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.

Fans of professional basketball and soccer in the US and Canada can get Live Activities updates on followed NBA and Premier League games. This feature of the TV app is likely to expand to more sports over time.

With the release of iOS 16.2, users will also be able to use Spotlight to search for a game, and “follow” it from the resulting information page – which triggers the Live Activities update. Updates can be turned off by searching for the game again.

Third-party apps like Flighty and Carrot Weather have already taken advantage of the feature: Flighty, for example, offers subscribers flight updates starting about three hours before a scheduled trip, including any route changes or delays.

Carrot Weather has a rain/snow countdown and forecasted levels and duration for subscribers. Just Press Record, a $5 app for iPhone and Apple Watch, uses Live Activities to update users on recording status at no additional cost.

Flighty and Carrot Weather's Live Activities alerts
Flighty and Carrot Weather’s Live Activities alerts

As with Just Press Record, not all apps require an additional purchase or subscription to use Live Activities. Lyft and Uber, for example, will soon update customers on car arrival times using Live Activities for free.

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To better showcase the variety of options with Live Activities, we’ll highlight some apps that cater to specific interests. As of this writing, there are over 170 third-party apps listed that support some form of live activities.

Fitness and sports

SmartGym is a popular third-party app to help users track workouts. It also offers a standalone Apple Watch app that doesn’t require your iPhone to be with you, and integrates with the Health app.

Fat Burn Tracker is a highly rated fitness app focused on free weight loss, helping users reach their most effective heart rate goals and preventing overtraining or fatigue. It works with Apple Watch Series 3 or later, and most Bluetooth heart rate monitors.

FotMob will track soccer scores worldwide, but it 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 areas.

Productivity

MoneyCoach is a well-regarded but pricey money tracking and management app that syncs transactions across devices, including the ability to import Apple cards and other credit card statements.

The Structured Daily Planner works with iOS’ focus modes to display goals and countdowns to the next task within a given focus. Some features require a subscription, or users can choose to pay a one-time fee of $30 to permanently unlock all applicable features.

Targeted at college students, Subjects shows users their schedule, homework and deadlines, updated GPA averages, and offers the ability to collaborate with classmates. The app has a reasonable monthly or annual subscription.

Goodtask works with both iCloud and Outlook’s calendars and reminders, and is highly rated for its optional $10/year subscription.

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Cardpointers is an app that helps users track credit card rewards. It helps users maximize rewards by reminding them which card to use when at a given store or website, and can help users find cards that better suit their rewards needs and shopping habits.

MoneyCoach and subjects
MoneyCoach and subjects

Other apps that support Live Activities

Bookly provides statistics and timers when you open a book to read on your device, and also helps users manage their to-read lists. It offers optional additional features for a monthly, semi-annual or annual subscription.

Marvis Pro offers widgets, Live Activity or Dynamic Island information, and lock screen controls for what’s playing on Apple Music or from your music library. It’s donation merchandise, with Last.fm support for a $5 in-app purchase.

Pestle helps users collect, organize, adjust, and execute recipes, whether online or even handwritten. It offers monthly or annual subscriptions, or a simple “lifetime” in-app purchase.

Coffee Book is a caffeine tracker, brew diary and barista trainer for coffee enthusiasts. The brew timer appears on Live Activities or Dynamic Island, depending on the iPhone.

Booby Track is for breastfeeding moms, tracking feeds and providing helpful reminders for new moms right from the lock screen. It’s a five-star free app that doesn’t track users or send back data.

Marvis Pro and Pestle
Marvis Pro and Pestle

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