This is probably the most talked about feature of the new one iPhone 14 Pro, and in the best Apple tradition, the world ended up being divided into those who liked it and those who thought it would change how we use phones and it was nothing more than “typical Apple razzmatazz to appeal to the mainstream.” We’re talking about the Dynamic Island, Apple’s reimagining of the notch on the iPhone, transforming it from a static rectangle at the top of the phone into an interactive cut-out capsule and a punch hole at the top.
Thanks to some OLED display magic that turns pixels into blocks, these two cutouts fit together to appear as a single object and resize and display animations and information. It’s very early days for the feature but based on our residency at Dynamic Island, we’re betting that notches will be flexible on all phones in the coming days. Of course, it’s not all roses for the dynamic island. There are also some thorns. So after our first few days there, here’s what we like and don’t like about the iPhone’s Dynamic Island:
It’s No Wonder: Why We Love Dynamic Island
It’s a new way to interact with a phone…and a cool one
The part of us that loves the new UI adores the dynamic island. It gives us a whole new way to interact with the phone. It’s very snappy and has a definite ‘cool’ look to it, which at the time of writing, no other phone has (we hear Android devs are already working on it). With its sleek design and smooth performance, Apple has made a feature considered an eyesore, beauty or at least great visual interest. And of course, for those who want to make sure the world knows they have a new iPhone, this is a very unique feature.
This makes the notch more functional
Contrary to what some believe, the actual notch is not an announcement of Apple’s design. It was originally added to simplify Face ID, allowing users to unlock the iPhone securely and quickly just by looking at it. This enabled Apple to remove the trademark round home button and fingerprint scanner that were under the display of iPhones until then, and instead offer users an almost all-display front with thin bezels. The notch has a selfie camera and sensors to enable a secure and quick face unlock experience. So it’s actually a functional feature rather than a design touch. However, there isn’t much you can actually do with Gita. The dynamic island changes as the area around the new capsule-shaped punch hole expands, contracts, and becomes a sort of notification that you can see without swiping down. Technically speaking, the notch is still there, but now it does a lot more.
This is especially useful for “doing something else without leaving what you’re doing” multitasking tasks
Dynamic Island is a very handy tool for those who want to do some tasks without deviating from their main task. It’s not for the hardcore split-screen, app-switching kind of multi-tasking crowd, but it’s perfect for those who want to do a side task or two while still sticking to their main assignment. So for example, you can change volume levels or change audio tracks or take or reject a call on Dynamic Island without leaving your WhatsApp chat window or your endless scrolling sessions on Instagram. We didn’t have to bother opening another app for this purpose – Dynamic Island is like a handy sticky note that lets you keep up with your main task, while also attending to something relatively small. If you want to open the corresponding app, tap on the island and the app will open as a widget. The functionality is a bit limited right now – at the time of writing, you can’t read or reply to short emails or messages from Dynamic Island, but we expect more to happen as Dynamic Island’s population becomes more compatible. .
It works very smoothly
Despite being a first attempt to pack information and animation into a very small space, Dynamic Island works very smoothly. It expands and contracts depending on the situation without any jerks or lags and we haven’t seen any freezing or lagging so far. Apple attributes this to a lot of hardware and software wizardry, including a high-quality OLED display and its own processor (“hardware and software anti-aliasing powered by Apple silicon”). It works without a hitch, animations look fluid, colors look bright, and even text and images are sharp, giving it the sleek feel of a well-rounded product that’s not just a still-developing first effort (it is). It would be great if it could actually replace the notification area – it doesn’t require pulling down to see and is always subtle.
This is just the beginning, there is more to come
Dynamic Island might seem a bit gimmicky right now, but that could change in the coming months, with several developers working on features and functions around it. There are a few developers who have already tweaked apps around it – there’s a Reddit client called Apollo that actually makes a cat or dog appear on an island from something called Dynamic Island Zoo when you use the app, and there’s a game called Hit. An island that makes island pong a part of a pong session, you have to use your paddle to make sure the ball hits the island. There’s even more serious stuff on the way – in the coming days, Dynamic Island could get updates on the cab you’ve ordered, live scores from the match you’re following and more, making it an ecosystem in itself. Own right.
It’s not… Weird: Why We Don’t Like Dynamic Island
A bit difficult to reach
The location of the dynamic island is odd. It’s located above the display, which isn’t an easy place to reach, especially if you’re using it a lot iPhone 14 Pro Max. Even when you turn on reachability to make the display more accessible by allowing content to slide down, the dynamic island and its controls remain at the top of the phone. We adjust the iPhone 14 Pro Max’s grip every time we use it. We’ll get used to it eventually, as with larger displays, but right now it’s just too inconvenient.
It’s a little intrusive and distracting (and can’t be turned off or adjusted).
The dynamic island is surrounded by spectacle on all sides. It’s literally cut out of the display, but the notch actually wraps around the display on three sides, with its top flowing into the top of the phone. Perhaps it’s just a matter of habit, but we found it much less intrusive than the Dynamic Island, which seems to intrude a lot more into full-screen images and videos because it’s surrounded by content on all sides. Also, while the animations and information in the cutout above the display may look pretty for a while, it can actually be distracting. At the time of writing, there is no way to turn off or adjust the dynamic island’s settings (perhaps less animations, freezing for a while). You have to live as you are now.
This may damage the selfie camera
We’ve been using iPhones with notches since 2017, but the iPhone 14 Pro Max’s selfie camera has more smudges in one week than any other in five years. Because we never need to touch the selfie camera. That changes with Dynamic Island, where every animation or notification prompts one to touch the area around the selfie camera.
The dynamic island of the iPhone 14 Pro series is definitely very prime, very appy real estate. If developed properly, it can become a force in its own right. It’s still very much a work in progress, but looks very promising.