Good news! Apple finally made a model of iPhone without a notch. In its place on the latest-gen iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max models is something called the Dynamic Island. Let’s see what it does and how to use it.
What Is Dynamic Island?
Dynamic Island is a unique blend of software and hardware that utilizes a technology called sub-pixel anti-aliasing to create a dedicated space for various tasks, indicators, and Live Activities on your iPhone.
That’s nerd-speak for “Apple found a clever way to hide the front-facing camera and Face ID array while adding extra software functionality to a pill-shaped region on the display.”
How to Interact With Dynamic Island
The Dynamic Island offers a consistent and unobtrusive experience for tasks like setting a timer, answering an incoming phone call, checking out with Apple Pay, connecting your AirPods, and controlling your music. There are two primary ways to interact with the Dynamic Island while managing onscreen activities:
- A tap: instantly opens the corresponding app that the Dynamic Island is displaying a status for.
- A long press: expands to reveal relevant controls for the app that the Dynamic Island is displaying a status for.
Understanding Privacy Indicators in the Dynamic Island
In iOS 16 Apple places color-coded dot indicators in the middle of the Dynamic Island on the latest Pro iPhone models. It give users more control over their privacy by informing them when an app may be accessing onboard hardware sensors without their knowledge. Learn what each dot indicator represents and how to identify which apps are accessing your data:
- Orange dot indicator: an app is currently using the microphone on your iPhone.
- Green dot indicator: an app is currently using only the camera or the camera and the microphone on your iPhone.
To identify which apps are requesting sensor data from your iPhone:
- Access Control Center by swiping down with one finger from the upper-right corner of the display.
- Tap on the name of the app with the privacy glyphs next to it to reveal a report. In this example, we tapped “Instagram,” which revealed that the photo-sharing app has recently requested access to our location and camera.
Tasks and Activities That Work With Dynamic Island
iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max currently support a total of 41 apps and features. App-specific controls and information will automatically expand when you need to access them and recede when you are finished using them.
The powerful new display engine in the A16 chip works in concert with the high-refresh-rate display to make Dynamic Island animations appear incredibly convincing and up to three times sharper than other animations in iOS.
In fact, there is already evidence showing that the new iPhone 14 Pro Max beats the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra in a number of silicon performance tests. The following is a complete list of what you can do with the Dynamic Island:
Notifications and System Alerts
- Incoming call
- AirPods connected
- Face ID
- Apple Pay
- Watch unlock
- Low battery
- Silent switch ON/OFF
- NFC interactions
- Focus changes
- Airplane mode/no data alert
- SIM card alerts
- Accessories connect
- Find My
- Ongoing call
- Music/Now playing apps
- Maps directions
- Voice memos
- Screen recording
- Personal hotspot
- Microphone indicator
- Camera indicator
- Amazon Music
- NPR One
- YouTube Music
- Google Voice
- Live Activities API
Tip: If your Dynamic Island displays a SIM card alert, you may need to transfer and activate eSIM on your iPhone 14. Note that the iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Plus, iPhone 14 Pro, and iPhone 14 Pro Max models sold in the United States do not have dedicated SIM card slots and only operate using eSIMs.
How to Answer Incoming Phone Calls With Dynamic Island
- When you receive a phone call, the Dynamic Island will expand to reveal the familiar Accept and Decline buttons alongside the caller’s contact name or phone number.
- If you accept the call, the Dynamic Island shrinks back down to reveal call duration and a live audio waveform. The orange audio waveform represents your voice, while the green audio waveform represents the caller’s voice.
- You can tap the call banner to immediately launch the Phone app or long-press on it to reveal the “hang up” button and audio output controls, which include the ability to activate speakerphone without having to open the Phone app. The long-press interface is highlighted below.
How to Manage Music Playback With the Dynamic Island
- While listening to a song in the Music app, or any app that supports Apple’s Now Playing interface, swipe out of the app from the bottom of the screen. Your content, including any album art or thumbnails, will squish into a dedicated media playback icon reminiscent of the old iTunes MiniPlayer.
- Tap on the Dynamic Island to launch the corresponding app that is outputting the audio or long-press on it to reveal the playback controls shown below. You can access Play, Pause, Forward, Rewind, and audio output settings from the long-press interface. To connect to AirPods, an Apple TV, or wireless speakers, tap on the AirPlay icon (circled in red).
Tip: If you are looking to test playback controls in the Music app using the Dynamic Island, learn how to get free Apple Music.
How to Manage Two Tasks at Once Using the Dynamic Island
You can use Dynamic Island to keep track of more than one task at once by launching another supported app, then initiating another activity. In this example, we started a timer while playing a song in the Music app. Notice how the Timer icon breaks away from the Dynamic Island to reveal an actionable button. You can tap on either the pill-shaped or circular button to launch either the Music app or the Clock app. Long-press on either button to display more controls.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I use Dynamic Island with third-party apps from the App Store?
Not yet, but the upcoming iOS 16.1 will allow developers of third-party apps to release experiences tailored specifically for the Dynamic Island using Apple’s Live Activities API. Apple has already demoed expanded functionality for the Dynamic Island including ride-sharing status information for Lyft and live scorekeeping for sports games.
I see an orange square-shaped icon in the Dynamic Island. What does this mean?
The orange circular privacy indicator representing microphone access can sometimes show up as a square if users have “Differentiate Without Color” enabled in the Settings app. You can change the icon back to a circle by visiting “Settings -> Accessibility -> Display & Text Size.”
I’m having trouble reaching the Dynamic Island. How can I make it more accessible?
When you are using your iPhone in portrait orientation (vertically) with one hand, the Reachability feature can lower the top half of the display to help you reach UI elements with your thumb. On iPhone models with Face ID, including the iPhone 14 models, you can swipe down on the bottom edge of the screen to activate Reachability. Beginning with iOS 16.1, which is expected later this fall, you will be able to use Reachability to lower the Dynamic Island. Since the Dynamic Island is a blend of hardware and software, Reachability will temporarily clone the Dynamic Island using software simulation to help you access it.
Image credit: James Yarema via Unsplash. All screenshots taken by Brahm Shank.
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