Dynamic Island on iPhone 14 Pro: How to use iPhone’s latest software trick

Dynamic Island on iPhone 14 Pro: How to use iPhone’s latest software trick

Apple’s iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max has a lot of shiny new features, but the most noticeable is that Apple is lowering the “notch” cutout on the screen, surrounding it with the screen and naming it Dynamic Island.

Surely, Apple gave the camera cutouts a name so that the press and public didn’t end up calling it something worse than the notch, as we saw happen with iPhone X.

But what is so special about Dynamic Island? Well, Apple took what are actually two different cutouts — you can see them if you look at the screen up close while rotating the phone — and built software to hide the camera modules while making it interactive.

Not sure what I mean by that? Let’s take a closer look.

Also: iPhone 14 Pro brings the notch to life, finally

What apps use Dynamic Island?

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

Open the music app of your choice, such as Spotify or Apple Music, and start playing a song. Then exit the app to continue running in the background.

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Photo by Jason Cipriani

The Dynamic Island will begin to display the album art for the song currently playing, along with a sound wave-like animation to 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 interact with apps that use Dynamic Island

When listening to music or having an active timer, the island not only serves as a place to provide a quick status update for that task – you can also interact with the respective app directly from the island.

For example, when listening to music, you can tap the island to open the respective app and make changes such as skipping the track, going back or pressing the play and pause button.

It’s simple enough, but where Dynamic Island really shows its potential is when you long press it.

Using Music as the same example, a long press on the island will open up 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 using Dynamic Island at the same time—say, Music and a timer in the Clock app—the island will display 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 classy.

Also: iPhone 14 Pro vs iPhone 13 Pro: Is the latest iPhone worth the upgrade?

The Live Activities feature on the iPhone 14 Pro Max Dynamic Island

Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/ZDNET

With iOS 16.1, Dynamic Island gets better

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

Live Activities adds what amounts to a live widget to the iPhone lock screen that updates continuously. For example, apps like Uber can use Live Activities to update the location of your driver after calling for a ride. Or sports apps can put game results on the lock screen, updating the score or replays frequently.

The screenshots above are taken from the FotMob app. When you favorite an active game in the app, FotMob adds it to the lock screen. When you unlock your phone and actively use it, you will continue to see your score in Dynamic Island. You can long press to see a larger version of the widget, or tap on 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: Homeruns and Strikeouts

There is a hidden gesture for Dynamic Island in iOS 16.1

Speaking of iOS 16.1, when you update your iPhone 14 Pro to Apple’s latest and greatest software, 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 toward the center of the screen to minimize one of the activities, or swipe again to hide everything on the island completely. Swipe out towards the edge of the screen to bring back some of the activities.

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