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With the new iPhone 14 Pro, Apple removed the notch from the top of the phone and reduced its footprint by around 30 percent. Rather than leave this pill-shaped black spot in the middle of the display, idle, it used software to adjust its size and shape based on what was happening.
When you set up Face ID, it expands to show your whole face and guide you through the registration process. When you go to make a payment, your card will slide down from the top and expand. hence the name dynamic Island.
The Dynamic Island will not appear in most screenshots you take — with one exception. If there is something happening in the Dynamic Island, something other than its idle state, it will show in screenshots.
How to interact with the Dynamic Island
The Dynamic Island can be interacted with in one of two ways. While something occupies the Dynamic Island, a tap will jump you into that app while a long hold will expand the Dynamic Island.
While typically shown as a single pill of various sizes, there are times when the Dynamic Island will split into two. If you have one task already going that displays in the Dynamic Island and then start a second one, a smaller second bubble will split off.
Going back to the Voice Memo example, if you simultaneously started a screen recording, you would see the recording status in the main pill while the screen recording icon would be displayed in the smaller, secondary bubble. You can tap or long hold on either, just as you could before.
The Dynamic Island is also home to a pair of indicators. These can help you be aware of when your microphone or camera are being accessed for privacy reasons.
When the front-facing camera is being used, a green circle will appear in the Dynamic Island, just left of the camera. Similarly, an orange icon will appear when the microphone is being accessed.
As soon as we opened FaceTime we saw the green indicator and starting a Voice Memo recording ignited the orange dot.
There are many system-wide alerts that call the Dynamic Island home now. Unlocking your phone, toggling off the mute switch, or connecting your AirPods will show in the Dynamic Island.
Here is a list of all the system alerts that will appear in the Dynamic Island:
- Apple Watch unlock
Face ID setup & authentication
- Apple Pay
- low battery
- Actively charging
- incoming phone call
- Receiving AirDrop files
mute switch toggled
- NFC scanned
- Focus mode changed
- shortcuts run
- no data alert
- SIM card alerts
- Hotspot in use
- Accessory connected
Then we have live activities — tasks that are currently happening on your phone. Music playing in the background or an ongoing phone call will likely be the most common tasks in this category.
With iOS 16.1, Apple has made the Live Activities API available to developers. This can show activities on the Lock Screen, as well as the Dynamic Island. It could be anything from your Lyft driver approaching, your GrubHub order being picked up, or the current football score.
Here are the live activities that can show on the Dynamic Island as of now:
- In a SharePlay session
- Voice memory recording
- Screen recording active
- navigation instructions
- Taking a phone call
- Music or other audio apps
It can do even more…
As Apple allows third-party apps to integrate with Dynamic Island, you’ll see more and more apps bring native support. With native support, apps can show more information such as album artwork, app icons, or proper colors.
Take “now playing” apps. Right now, Pandora, Spotify, Audible, Amazon Music, Overcast, YouTube Music, Stitcher, and SoundCloud support Dynamic Island with proper graphics while playing.
If a “now playing” app doesn’t support Dynamic Island, it will still show there, but lack any distinguishing features. Dark Noise, for example, will only show the audio visualizer and the pause button until the developer releases its next update.
So far, this is just the beginning. As iOS 16.1 is released with the Live Activities API, as developers add more support to existing apps, and as Apple imagines the future of the Dynamic Island it will only become more capable.