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What is Dynamic Island Apple and how to use it

Vladislav Gavriluk

Vladislav Gavriluk

CEO & Founder at Arounda

A fresh and valuable feature launched by Apple in the iPhone 14 Pro and later models became a real breakthrough. Dynamic Island is your all-in-one hub for the in-progress background activity and alerts. Now, your front camera notch no longer wastes space but allows you to interact with essential notifications immediately. Track your timer, receive low battery notifications, switch the playing song or a podcast, and more with Dynamic Island help. Intriguing, isn’t it?

With more than seven years of experience in graphic and UI/UX design, our team is a real pro in all design innovations. We’ll gladly describe the crucial peculiarities of the Dynamic Island features in this article so you can get the most out of it.

Table of Contents

What is the Dynamic Island: Everything You Need to Know

The Dynamic Island is a relatively new interactive iOS 16 feature housing the TrueDepth front camera notch. Starting from the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max, it’s now spread to all iPhone 15 models. 

Dynamic Island is a pill-shaped zone on the upper side of the ‌iPhone‌ display. It adapts the camera hardware and is a shape-shifting hub for vital iPhone alerts or your ongoing activity. Such elements are what make iOS development exciting. Since the feature is triggered automatically, you can view a multitasking bar within seconds without additional actions. This totally new UI experience is provided by competent design. Let’s get more insights about its design in the next paragraph. 

UI Design of Dynamic Island 

To grasp what is Dynamic Island Apple, let’s recall what iOS offered us before implementing it. In earlier iPhone models (before iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max), starting from the iPhone X, we saw a notch at the top of the phone display. This black-colored part contained a front camera, a top speaker, and a facial recognition system (Face ID). It already had a pill shape but was combined with the phone borders in the cut-to-corners way. This design allowed your OLED display to remain interactive only on the notch's top corners, right and left. 

However, Apple believes that the display should always take center stage. That’s why the company designed the rounded black and touchable area, smaller than the notch and size-and-shape-changed depending on what's displayed. Dynamic Island became a certain space-saver since it allows displaying content on the screen between and around the cutouts. It still hides the TrueDepth sensors and camera but is more appealing and functional.  So, how to use Dynamic Island? Scroll down for more details. 

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Dynamic Island Shape Change

As we previously discussed, Dynamic Island design offers an intuitive change in size and shape depending on the action you require. It can be extended horizontally and vertically as needed and can take up the entire display width when needed. Moreover, it maintains several tasks simultaneously. 

Let’s say you are listening to some music track and have an ongoing Timer. In such cases, the island works as follows: 

  • You have both apps displayed on the island. The Music bar will be visible on the pill-shaped zone, while the Timer will be shown in the near circle on the right. 

  • You can hold any of the bars to select the desired action. Once you long-tap any icon, you will see a wider selection of functions in this exact app. Meanwhile, another icon wouldn’t be visible. But when you short-tap somewhere on a screen, both bars would be achievable again. This way, you can change the song without interrupting a timer count. The respective time will still be displayed on the island. 

  • If you need to open the full-width version of any running apps, you can also perform it straight on the island. Just tap once again on the needed app bar after a previous long-press, and you are all set. 

To cut a long story short, you can track your timer activity, pause it, or stop at all while switching to another playing song, pause music, or enter any app's full versions. This is an intuitive Dynamic Island’s shape-shifting. 

The same shape transformation logic goes for other applications on your iPhone. Apple Pay payments, for instance, change the island's shape into a square to match the Face ID verification. During the ongoing call, it expands into a rectangle to access phone controls quickly.

Split Island functionality

The trick we mentioned above with the two-apps-simultaneous-depiction is based on TrueDepth system engineering. It exists in two separate cutouts merged through software, which helps to split the island into a pill on the left and a circle on the right. Both of the icons can demonstrate separate info at the same time without interfering with one another. 

Dynamic Island Functions

Dynamic Island can demonstrate iPhone alerts and active tasks. As described above, you can mostly see such notifications in three states: small app icons on the island, an expanded window after a long press, and a full-screen app. Below you can find the lists of the supported notifications: 

Dynamic Island Alerts 

  • Face ID‌ unlocking

  • ‌Apple Pay‌ transaction confirmations

  • Find My notifications 

  • AirDrop file transfer status

  • Privacy indicators for microphone or camera in use (green dot appears while the camera is on and orange while the microphone)

  • Low battery alerts

  • AirPods connection status and battery state

  • ‌iPhone‌ charging status

  • Phone's silent mode (mute and unmute)

  • Car key (if it was added to your Apple Wallet) locking and unlocking

  • Airplane mode alert 

  • Apple Watch unlocking

  • SIM card alerts

  • AirPlay connections

  • Focus mode changes

  • Shortcut acts

  • LED Flash alerts 

  • Near-field communication (NFC) notifications 

Dynamic Island Background Activities

  • Screen Recording

  • Currently playing music

  • Maps directions

  • Timer track 

  • Voice memo recordings

  • Incoming call notification 

  • Phone call duration

  • Fitness scores 

  • Personal Hotspot connection

  • SharePlay sessions

Besides, Dynamic Island supports some third-party apps, so you can interact with them the same way. For instance, CardPointers, GPS Tracks, Landscape, Lumy, Flighty, Forest, Liftin', Crouton, FotMob, Steps, SmartGym, Apollo, and others. 

Dynamic Island Pros and Cons

Dynamic Island has benefits and drawbacks, as any relatively new feature. Let’s examine them: 

Advantages:

  • You can view and interact with background tasks.

  • You receive timely updates on the ongoing activity progress.

  • Unlocking your iPhone triggers it to appear without any additional actions.

  • Several activities are visible simultaneously.

  • It is an interactive shape-and-size-changed area.

Disadvantages:

  • It’s impossible to turn off the feature fully.

  • There is no way to modify the time a particular notification remains visible before disappearing.

  • Accessible only on the iPhone 14 Pro and the latest models.

  • Leads to front camera blurriness since you constantly tap on the island where the camera is.

  • It is not fully optimized for all third-party apps.

Conclusion

Dynamic Island is one of the most recent iPhone interface updates. This feature was first introduced on the iPhone 14 Pro models as an ongoing display activity from your phone's background tasks. As for now, all of the iPhone 15 line support Dynamic Island. This interactive hub helps you to keep track of the important notifications directly from your iPhone, or the supported activities such as current music play or sports scores. All in all, it is an intuitive alert center that comes in handy on a daily basis. Although, it is still not supported by a lot of apps. 

Do you want to enhance your iOS users' experience? Make your app stand out by enabling the Dynamic Island activity access. Arounda team is here to help you! Drop us a line to gain more with the ultra-modern UI design!

Vladislav Gavriluk
Vladislav Gavriluk
CEO & Founder at Arounda
I make sure our clients get the high-quality result from the beginning stage of the idea discovery & strategy to the final digital product.

Frequently asked questions

  • What does the Dynamic Island do?

    Dynamic Island shows you a digest of the background active tasks on your Apple iPhone. This feature demonstrates the apps that run in the background while you switch to the home screen or another app. For instance, it displays the current song playing, your AirDrop actions, Screen Recording time and Timer, Fitness scores, or directions on your Apple Maps.

  • What is the Dynamic Island?

    Dynamic Island is a pill-shaped zone on the upper side of the ‌iPhone‌ display. It adapts the camera hardware and is a shape-shifting hub for vital iPhone alerts or your ongoing activity. Such elements are what make iOS development exciting. Since the feature is triggered automatically, you can view a multitasking bar within seconds without additional actions.

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