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Apple hasn’t shown us why the Dynamic Island needs to exist

OPINION: Apple is all set to unveil the iPhone 15 this week and one of the heavily rumoured additions to the phone looks could be stripped right from the iPhone 14 Pro.

If pre-event chatter is to be believed, and we’ll find out for sure on September 12, one of the bigger changes for the iPhone 15 will be the ditching of the notch and the addition of the Dynamic Island.

If you’ve used or seen the iPhone 14 Pro, then the Dynamic Island will be familiar – it’s that pill-shaped lozenge that sits at the top of the screen, hiding the multitude of cameras and sensors. It was first revealed during the launch of Apple’s 2022 line of phones and it caused quite the stir.

I was a big fan of the idea behind the Dynamic Island when Apple first showed it off. I was tired of the notch and Apple did a good job, as it tends to do, highlighting how developers could use it. But a year on, I am still waiting for a use case that feels unique.

I had expected more of a Dynamic Island focus in iOS 17. If Apple knew it was coming to the whole range of iPhone 15 models, then it would have made sense to get ahead of this and make it an integral part of the software. But that doesn’t seem to be the case. Even in iOS 17, there’s a wide gulf between general system notifications that appear and the alerts that come into the Dynamic Island, like the connectivity status of AirPods. It all feels quite disjointed.

The iPhone 14 Pro Max Dynamic Island
The iPhone 14 Pro Max Dynamic Island

I’ve also found that very few apps use the space well and there have only been a few instances where I have thought it was generally clever. It works well with music and audio apps, giving you quicker access to controls without pulling down the Notification tray, and it’s neat to follow an Uber driver’s position away from the app. My favourite utilisation of it has been for sports scores.

Apps like FotMob allow you to pin a match to the Dynamic Island, ensuring the score is always visible whatever app you’re using. It’s great being able to glance up and always be up-to-date without constantly jumping in and out of the app. There’s just very little else.

If the iPhone 15 does indeed inherit the Dynamic Island then Apple needs to try and sell the reason for its existence better. Whether that’s by bringing developers up on stage to show how it can be utilised or by finding interesting ways of building it into native apps, it needs to feel more integral to the phone.

Of course, there could be a reason why Apple doesn’t want it to feel like an integral part of the phone. There have been rumblings for years about a true all-screen iPhone with no notch and all the camera parts hidden under the screen.

In many ways, the Dynamic Island feels like a stop-gap, a short-term solution that allows Apple to redesign the notch before the tech is truly ready to ditch it all completely.

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