Dynamic Island on the iPhone 14 Pro: Using the iPhone’s Latest Software Trick

apples iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max have plenty of shiny new features, but the most notable is that Apple lowers the “notch” cutout on the screen, surrounds it with the screen, and names it Dynamic Island.

Of course, Apple named the camera cutouts so that the press and public wouldn’t call it something worse than the notch, as we saw happen with the iPhone X.

But what’s so special about the Dynamic Island? Well, Apple took what are actually two different cutouts — you can see them if you look closely at the screen while turning the phone — and built software to hide the camera modules, while getting interactive.

Don’t know what I mean by that? Let’s take a closer look at that.

Also: iPhone 14 Pro finally makes the notch come to life

Which apps use the Dynamic Island?

There is currently a short list of Apple apps that integrate with Dynamic Island, but that will certainly grow in the future. You’ll see a fun animation on the island when you use Face ID to unlock your phone or plug in your phone to charge. But those are just two of the more basic interactions.

Open your music app of choice, such as Spotify or Apple Music, and start playing a song. Then close the app to let it run in the background.

Image by Jason Cipriani

The Dynamic Island will begin to show the cover art for the song currently playing, along with a sound wave-like animation on the right.

I’m constantly discovering new apps that use Dynamic Island, but currently the list includes Phone, Maps, Clock, Maps, FaceTime, Apple Pay, Screen Recording, Hotspot Status, and AirPods Status Indicators.

Also: iPhone 14 Pro vs iPhone 14 Pro Max: Which Should You Buy?

Dynamic island on Pro Max

Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/ZDNET

How to deal with apps that use the Dynamic Island

When you’re listening to music or have a timer active, the island not only acts as a place to give a quick status update for that task – you can also interact with the respective app directly from the island.

For example, if you’re listening to music, you can tap the island to open the respective app and make changes, such as skip the song, go back, or press the play and pause button.

That’s easy enough, but where the Dynamic Island really shows its potential is when you long press on it.

Using Music as the same example, a long press on the island will open a shortcut to all the key controls you’d expect to control music playback, including the AirPlay button.

But wait, there’s more. If you have two apps running at the same time that use Dynamic Island — say Music and a timer in the Clock app — the island will show animations for both tasks, with the timer represented by a small animation on the right. You can use the same tap or long press interaction for both apps to interact with them.

Pretty neat.

Also: iPhone 14 Pro vs iPhone 13 Pro: Is the Latest iPhone Worth the Upgrade?

Live activity feature on iPhone 14 Pro Max Dynamic Island

Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/ZDNET

With iOS 16.1 Dynamic Island gets better

With the release of iOS 16.1 on October 24, Apple added more to the Dynamic Island of the iPhone 14 Pro through a new feature coming to all iPhone models called Live Activities.

Live activities add what amounts to a live widget to the iPhone lock screen that is constantly updated. For example, apps like Uber can use Live Activities to update your driver’s location after calling for a ride. Or sports apps can put game scores on your lock screen, updating the score or games regularly.

The screenshots above are from the FotMob app. When you favorite an active game in the app, FotMob will add it to your lock screen. When you unlock your phone and actively use it, you will continue to see the score in the Dynamic Island. You can long press to view a larger version of the widget, or tap it to launch the app. This is really cool and I can’t wait to see more apps add support for it.

Review: iPhone 14 Pro innovation scorecard: the home runs and the strikeouts

There is a hidden gesture for Dynamic Island in iOS 16.1

Speaking of iOS 16.1, once you update your iPhone 14 Pro to the latest and greatest software from Apple, you get an additional option to interact with the island by swiping over it.

If you have two apps open and active on the island, you can swipe to the center of the screen to minimize one of the activities, or swipe again to completely hide everything on the island. Swipe to the edge of the screen to recall one of the activities.