Dynamic Island could push phonemakers towards better status bar

Apple’s “the notch” was introduced with iPhone X. It received a lot of criticism, but the company stood behind it and even embraced. With the iPhone 14 Pro we now have “Dynamic island” — a reshaped cutout which uses software to make the space more useful.

If you don’t understand what Dynamic Island means, it is an area that expands and contracts around the notch and displays useful information such as currently playing song, a notification to a call, and how far your cab ride is. To get an even better idea, check out the video below.

The hardware of the phone is one rectangular cutout and one punch-shaped cutout, with some space between them. Apple cleverly concealed that gap using black pixels in all of the footage we’ve seen. The iPhone 14 Pro’s OLED screen allows it to disable certain pixels.

The primary purpose of the status bar has been to check battery levels, pull down the control center or the notification tray. App makers could not draw over the network icons and battery in iPhone models prior to the 14 Pro. This meant that they couldn’t display a widget or banner notification.

There is now a provision to utilize the top of the screen thanks to the new design and even APIs for developers to utilize this new widget/notification/banner format. Dynamic island might be available to apps that already use CallKit and Now Playing API, as we mentioned in our review. Apple unveiled Live Activities widgets at its Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC). These widgets track activity in real-time, similar to the score of a sporting match. The Live Activities API, which will include instructions for adopting for Dynamic Island, is available later in the year to iOS 16 as well as XCode for developers. We may see third-party adoption of this new island increase.

Apple still hasn’t perfected the execution of this feature. You can touch the sides to expand Dynamic Island. Although technically the cutouts aren’t touch-sensitive, Apple uses touch heuristics (based on your finger movements around the edges) to “generate” touch. There might be some hits and misses when it comes to real-life use.

A single touch will open the app, instead of expanding the tablet around the cutouts to create a widget. This could prove confusing. To open the widget you’ll need to press the long-press button on the pill. If you’re listening to Apple Music, you can tap on the pill to open Apple Music instead of expanding into a widget that allows you to change the track or adjust volume. Designers argue that this interface is not the most intuitive because it is difficult to reach with one handed. However, many people use smartphones with two hands due to the large screen sizes.

Dynamic Island appears to maximize screen real estate. It is not a new idea to extend the top bar’s capabilities as more than just a display of icons. LG attempted to add a “secondscreen” above the regular screen in the last ten years with the V 10, and V 20. It was not successful. But, Apple’s Dynamic Island may push Android phone manufacturers to make a version. Twitter users have already begun to create concepts for different Android skins.

Since device manufacturers began including cutouts into their phone designs, many people have tried to hide them to give a full-screen experience. Oppo’s Sharkfin camera, the rotating camera, and many other pop-up cameras made by different companies are just a few examples. Manufacturers eventually gave up and moved to smaller sizes.

With the iPhone 14 Pro Apple didn’t just show off cutouts but also asked developers to create on them — an unusual choice for a phone with a marquee feature. This is not a revolutionary feature. It’s innovative, clever and a sign that in-screen selfie cameras will be available on mass market smartphones in the future.