iOS 17 could transform your iPhone into a pet-tracking camera — here's how

iPhone camera tracking dock and Corgi
(Image credit: Apple / Shutterstock)

iOS 17 could allow your iPhone to act as a 360-degree pet camera (as noted by The Verge), thanks to new tools within the software. We just need to wait for someone to make the app.

While the WWDC 2023 keynote focused on Apple's own new features for compatible iPhones, it's been touting a different set of developer-focused features in other virtual conference sessions. Two of those features are DockKit and Animal Body Pose API, which are available for iOS 17 as well as iPadOS 17, tvOS 17 and macOS Sonoma.

DockKit is designed to help iPhone camera apps work in tandem with motorized stands to track subjects, while Animal Body Pose API can read your cat or dog's body language by reading the position of various body parts in relation to each other.

It's not an app… yet

Apple pet tracking API

(Image credit: Apple)

Apple isn't promoting iPhone pet tracking from a stand as a pre-built part of its new software offerings. These are two independent systems we're talking about, with DockKit by itself only offering tracking for human subjects, with the Animal Body Pose API designed to detect what your pets are doing, not follow them when they wander out of frame.

What Apple's instead doing is using it as an inspiring example of something that app devs could easily achieve with the new frameworks combined. And hopefully, it's something that enterprising app makers will be able to do in time for iOS 17's public launch, expected this fall, with the developer beta already underway and a public beta coming next month.

Turning your iPhone into a stand-mounted pet tracker mirrors iOS 17's StandBy mode, a more prominent part of Apple's announcements that also transforms your iPhone into another device, in this case a miniature smart display. It's also similar to Continuity Camera from last year's iOS 16, which lets you use the iPhone's rear cameras as a webcam for Macs or as a video call camera when paired with an Apple TV 4K box.

Although we already had an idea of the best iOS 17 features from Apple's presentation, more and more new abilities are being discovered in the beta, such as sharing AirTags among your friends or enhanced anti-abuse tools for iMessage and other communication apps. No doubt we'll find more as beta users keep hunting through the new software for features that weren't there before.

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Richard Priday
Assistant Phones Editor

Richard is based in London, covering news, reviews and how-tos for phones, tablets, gaming, and whatever else people need advice on. Following on from his MA in Magazine Journalism at the University of Sheffield, he's also written for WIRED U.K., The Register and Creative Bloq. When not at work, he's likely thinking about how to brew the perfect cup of specialty coffee.