Apple’s new iPhone 14 Pro Dynamic Island is now just a little more dynamic. iOS 16.1, which officially appeared on millions of iPhones this week, brought new gesture controls to Apple’s innovative notch replacement.
Available only on the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max, the Dynamic Island not only moved the True Depth module down from the top edge of the iPhone, but also created a replaceable island of functionality. Technically speaking, the Dynamic Island is actually two Super Retina Display XDR screen cutouts, one pill-shaped and the other wider and more cylindrical. Apple cleverly uses the tiny bits of pixels between the two shapes to create a vibrant and fully dynamic digital island.
Within the dynamic island are activity symbols to indicate whether your phone is, for example, locked, playing music, or providing map-based directions. It may appear as if it is popping out to provide more card details or to perform a Face ID scan. In other words, the island, which also supports third-party apps, is designed to be a lot for a lot of people.
In iOS 16.1, it gets another trick. The Dynamic Island is already capable of displaying two running apps at once, but they generally sit as two separate islands with pixels on the home screen separating them. Now you can easily hide one activity with a gesture. Apple confirmed that this feature, which first appeared in the iOS 16.1 beta, is now part of the public download.
For example, we launched Apple Music and started playing a song, then switched to Maps and set up navigation for home. On the home screen, the Dynamic Island showed these activities in two separate, for lack of a better word, islands. For example, if we place a finger on the smaller music island and swipe to the left, the music island will be hidden, and we will have only one original-sized dynamic island on which to run our directions on the map.
Another quick swipe to the left on the far left side of the Dynamic Island reveals the music app, which again lands on its own little island on the right.
Granted, it’s a small change, but also an indication that Apple sees the Dynamic Island, which already responds to taps, as a platform on which to build a world of interaction.
We like the control and look forward to more.