Is ‘Always on’ enabled via software?

satchmo

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Aug 6, 2008
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Curious if this feature is enabled via software or hardware.

The S5 has a different display to enable longer battery life, but I’m thinking it’s software that tells the display to be dimmed.
 

DreamPod

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Mar 15, 2008
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Not sure what you are asking. Yes the software tells the display hardware to be dimmed, the screen refresh rate to be lower, the CPU/GPU chipset to go into its new low power mode, the watch faces to go into their dark versions, complications to be disabled (or into their own low-power modes), etc. The software is what controls when it all happens (based on the hardware that tells it the watch orientation and a timer) and it controls what happens.

This isn't the type of thing that would be done automatically in firmware or anything, it's definitely part of Watch OS 6.
 
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NorthCarolina

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Aug 25, 2018
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Another view of what this question may be asking; will there be a toggle for 'Always-on'?
I believe that there would be -- especially if you have to put the watch in power reserve.
 

DreamPod

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There is indeed a toggle for 'Always On', in Settings->Display and Brightness (that's also where you can tell it to hide "sensitive complications" in dim mode, so others can't see your health readouts).
 
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Shirasaki

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May 16, 2015
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It is software that tells the hardware to dim the screen, but always-on also needs better screen hardware to achieve. I don‘t think Apple Watch series 4 can do always-on without losing a lot of battery life if Apple ever allows to do so. Just yesterday, I had to disable “raise to wake” when my watch battery was dropped below 15% and I could not recharge atm.
 

satchmo

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Not sure what you are asking. Yes the software tells the display hardware to be dimmed, the screen refresh rate to be lower, the CPU/GPU chipset to go into its new low power mode, the watch faces to go into their dark versions, complications to be disabled (or into their own low-power modes), etc. The software is what controls when it all happens (based on the hardware that tells it the watch orientation and a timer) and it controls what happens.

This isn't the type of thing that would be done automatically in firmware or anything, it's definitely part of Watch OS 6.
What I’m implying is whether or not the AW4 (or any AW really), could get this feature via some hack.
 

jonblatho

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What I’m implying is whether or not the AW4 (or any AW really), could get this feature via some hack.
I mean, I’m sure it’s possible. Whether such a hack is feasible is another matter altogether, though. The very nature of the Watch makes this…really difficult.
 

DreamPod

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Yeah, it might not be that hard to do with a jailbroken watch, but...such a thing doesn't exist. There was one jailbreak so far, and that was only for developers to see what the hardware was really doing, it wasn't designed for end-users.

I would bet that there's a different build of Watch OS for each different series of watch, so having Watch OS 6 on a Series 4 may not even have any of the libraries/code for low power at all.
 

satchmo

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I mean, I’m sure it’s possible. Whether such a hack is feasible is another matter altogether, though. The very nature of the Watch makes this…really difficult.
Yeah I realize that. Given how similar the two series are, I was just wondering how someone with an S4 might get that feature.
 

jonblatho

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Jan 20, 2014
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Yeah I realize that. Given how similar the two series are, I was just wondering how someone with an S4 might get that feature.
My understanding is that the Series 5 has hardware which allows it to reduce the display’s refresh rate down to 1 Hz when not actively in use. Not qualified to comment on whether that’s in the display or the S5 chip, but it seems like either or both have been updated to be more energy-efficient and allow this feature to work without slaughtering the battery.

I can say from my own Series 4 that I doubt it’d make it through a day at least sometimes if the display were always on, even with the tweaked watch face designs that are displayed when in always-on mode. I usually go to bed with the watch at roughly 50 ± 15% battery.
 

NT1440

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May 18, 2008
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Yeah I realize that. Given how similar the two series are, I was just wondering how someone with an S4 might get that feature.
Nope. Apparently the S5 has a whole new hardware display driver that allows it to refresh the screen as little as once a second.

Thats simply impossible to replicate in software alone on the S4. I’m sure they could simply tell that screen to always be on, but it’s going to have massive battery life implications.
 
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DeanLubaki

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May 29, 2014
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Another view of what this question may be asking; will there be a toggle for 'Always-on'?
I believe that there would be -- especially if you have to put the watch in power reserve.
There is indeed a toggle for 'Always On', in Settings->Display and Brightness (that's also where you can tell it to hide "sensitive complications" in dim mode, so others can't see your health readouts).
Enabling the Theatre Mode also disables the always-on display.
 
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