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What is Dynamic Island? The iPhone feature explained

The notch has long been a divisive feature among iPhone users, protruding onto the screen in order to allow a selfie camera module. Apple addressed those concerns by launching the Dynamic Island in 2022.

The Dynamic Island is currently an exclusive feature to the iPhone 14 Pro models, but reports indicate that Apple could be introducing the feature to the entire iPhone 15 which is to be announced during an event on September 12.

But what exactly is the Dynamic Island? And is it a feature we want to see on the iPhone 15 series? We’ve explained everything you need to know about Apple’s Dynamic Island below.

What is the Dynamic Island?

The Dynamic Island is designed to be a replacement for the iPhone’s notch, taking the form of a rounded black pill at the top of the phone’s OLED screen.

Instead of being a piece of physical material that sits on top of the screen, it’s instead a black digital blob that hides the front-facing camera and Face ID sensors, which are housed underneath the screen.

The best aspect of the Dynamic Island is its ability to change in shape and size to whichever application is active. It’s designed to surface useful information, like when AirPods are connected, or when the device is being charged. It’ll surface a tiny thumbnail of the album art from Apple Music, show when Apple Pay is being accessed, or when the do-not-disturb mode is switched on.

These icons appear as an expansion on either side of the sensors and, thanks to the way the pixels match the black sensors, the animations look impressively seamless.

However, Dynamic Island can also expand further into the wider iPhone 14 Pro display. Incoming calls and a running stopwatch appear in a banner that stretches out from the sensors, for example.

If you’re unlocking an app or using Apple Pay, the Face ID indicator also drops down from the Dynamic Island rather than appearing in the centre of the display.

Dynamic Island is also interactive, so you can tap it to expand. For example, if you wish to check your AirPods battery, or cease a voice recording. Ongoing activities like Maps directions or sports scores can also be expanded by a simple tap and hold.

When you’re done, if you swipe up to dismiss the Apple Music album art for example, the activity will return as an icon to the Dynamic Island.

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Which apps support Dynamic Island?

Most Apple apps support Dynamic Island, while there are also a growing number of third-party apps that have rolled out support since launch. Here are a number o of examples:

  • Phone
  • Apple Music
  • Maps
  • Wallet
  • Voice Memos
  • Clock
  • Lyft
  • Spotify
  • YouTube Music
  • Audible
  • Overcast
  • SoundCloud
  • Flighty

In terms of other features, you’ll see headphones connectivity, do not disturb mode, silent mode, charging status, and more. It’ll also show sports scores for your favourite teams with team badges on either side of the sensors.

How does Dynamic Island work?

This is all made possible by the hardware changes within the iPhone 14 Pro and has two components: Firstly, the display design itself is key. The positioning of the cut out has moved and looks neater, while the proximity sensors have moved behind the display – the first time Apple has done this.

Secondly, it’s possible (and exclusive to iPhone 14 Pro models) due to the presence of the A16 Bionic chip. Since the base models of the iPhone 15 are expected to be powered by the A16 Bionic chip, it’s highly likely that the entire iPhone 15 range will support the Dynamic Island. These new phones are expected to be unveiled in September 2023.

Which phones support Dynamic Island?

The new Dynamic Island is currently exclusive to the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max and is made possible by the new positioning of the front-facing camera and Face ID sensors, which are now integrated within the display, rather than as a piece carved out from the top of the handset.

However, the iPhone 15 and its more expensive siblings are all expected to support the Dynamic Island. It looks like Apple plans to announce these phones in September 2023.

It seems like these features will remain exclusive to iPhones for the time being, with no sign of them coming to iPad or Mac, at least for the time being.

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