How to Use Live Activities on iPhone (iOS 16)

Check the Face ID & Passcode settings to ensure widgets keep updating

What to Know

  • Enable Live Activities: Settings > Face ID & Passcode > enter passcode > move Live Activities to on/green.
  • Live Activities work on all iPhones running iOS 16 and up and, if the hardware supports it, in the Dynamic Island.

This article explains what Live Activities are, how they differ on iPhones that offer the Dynamic Island and provides step-by-step instructions to enable Live Activities

How to Use Live Activities on iPhone (iOS 16)

Live Activities provide a handy way to get at-a-glance information and features from compatible apps on your lock screen. With them, there's no need to unlock your iPhone or go into apps themselves.

To use Live Activities, you need to be running iOS 16 and up. As noted, on the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max, Live Activities also take advantage of the space offered by the Dynamic Island.

To enable live activities on an iPhone, follow these steps:

  1. Tap Settings.

  2. Tap Face ID & Passcode.

    The Settings app icon and Face ID settings item highlighted on an iPhone.
  3. Enter your passcode.

  4. In the Allow Access when Locked section, move the Live Activities slider to on/green.

    An iPhone's passcode requested and Live Activities settings highlighted on an iPhone.

Which Live Activities are available in your apps, and how you activate them, differs based on which apps you use. You can clear a Live Activity from your lock screen by swiping from right to left on it.

On iPhones running iOS 16.2 and up, you can set Live Activities to update sports scores more frequently. First, enable this option in Settings > TV > Live Activities > move to on/green the sliders for both Allow Live Activities and More Frequent Updates. Then, in the TV app, tap the game and, on its detail page, tap Follow. The Live Activity for that game on your lock screen is updated frequently.

What Are Live Activities?

Live Activities are a small view into an app that can be added to your iPhone lock screen and provides regularly updated information from that app. They allow an app to surface crucial information that you'll want at a glance: a sports score, where your food delivery is on its way to you, weather information, and more.

Two examples (the timer and a sports score) of Live Activities on an iPhone lock screen.

As their name suggests, Live Activities are updated regularly and let you get important information with just a glance at your screen (great with the iPhone 14's always-on screen) and without opening an app.

Think of them as being like lock screen widgets or notifications that update in close to real-time and that you can interact with.

Live Activities on iPhone 14 Pro and Up

On the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max, Live Activities also take advantage of the Dynamic Island to provide updates while you use other apps, not just from the lock screen. On these models, information appears in the Dynamic Island in a collapsed form at all times. Sometimes, the Dynamic Island expands to show something particularly important, and you can tap the Dynamic Island to jump into that app.

Examples of Live Activities on the lock screen and in the Dynamic Island.

For example, when listening to a song in Music, the Dynamic Island shows a thumbnail of the album art for the song you're listening to and a tap takes you to the album in Music. In another example, a sports game that you're following shows the team logos and the current score in the Dynamic Island. When the game ends, the Dynamic Island expands to show the final.

Apps That Support Live Activities

As of this writing, there are a few dozen, or maybe a couple hundred, apps that support Live Activities. Given that number, there's no way to list them all here, but a search in the App Store for "live activities" or "dynamic island" will turn up some good options.

Apps that comes pre-installed on the iPhone that support Live Activities, updates in the Dynamic Island, or both, include:

  • Clock (for timers)
  • Maps
  • Music
  • TV
  • Voice Memos.
  • What is Background App Activities on an iPhone?

    Background App Activities, or Background App Refresh, is an option that lets apps update information when they're not active. It's different from Background App Update, which lets your phone download and install new versions of apps as they become available. One example of Background App Refresh is a weather program checking for alerts, or a stocks app keeping company info up to date.

  • Which iPhones work with iOS 16?

    iOS 16 is available for iPhone 8 and newer, including the second-generation or later iPhone SE. Older phones won't have an option to update to this operating system.

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