When I first got the iPhone 14 Pro, I didn’t really think the Dynamic Island would make much of a difference. Sure, the cutout was smaller and claimed to do a lot of new things never before seen in iPhones, but I was too used to the current gestures and had developed muscle memory which made me think it won’t make much of a difference. Turns out I was wrong. As the days passed and I used the iPhone 14 Pro daily, I began to appreciate it more and more and slowly fell in love with it. Here’s why I love the new Dynamic Island on the iPhone 14 Pro despite my assumptions when it was first released.
Why I love using the Dynamic Island
When Apple first announced Dynamic Island, I, like many other users around the world, giggled. Why would they name a display cutout that can do a few more things? Android devices have long had third-party apps that detect the notch and add useful overlays to it on most popular phones. You can add a battery bar, app shortcuts, or aesthetic overlays that look pretty. So why would Dynamic Island be any different? I brushed off this train of thought, completed watching the stream, and a few weeks later, my iPhone 14 Pro arrived.
While I was excited to check out the new Stainless Steel finish and the new large sensor that everyone was talking about, my excitement to experience the Dynamic Island soon took over as I unboxed my phone. Zipping through the setup process, my eyes were focused on Dynamic Island. What will it do? As you might have expected, nothing…
Soon the iPhone 14 Pro felt like any other iPhone once my backups were restored and the wallpapers I am used to were applied. But all that changed once I decided to go on with my day.
As I opened the Maps app and instinctively started the saved route to my home and swiped up, the Dynamic Island sprung to life. I have never been a fan of voice instructions when using Maps, so for someone who always has this feature disabled, switching back and forth to the Maps app had become a norm when I was using my iPhone.
But now Dynamic Island was here to my rescue. I could view directions using clever icons crafted by Apple that help me recognize turns, roundabouts, and more. This was especially useful when walking to certain places as I could continue using my phone and simply glance at Dynamic Island to check out when the next turn was coming.
And things only got better. Having my Now Playing beside the Navigation ensured that I did not need to switch apps or use the control center to access either of these background activities. I could control my music playback and stop both once I had reached my location directly from the Island.
And you barely notice the Face ID when making payments or accessing secure files or apps on your iPhone. Although I was used to Face ID interrupting the entire screen so that it could authenticate my identity, having it seamlessly slide in and out of the Dynamic Island made things much easier. I do wish you were allowed to interact with the screen while Face ID did its thing, but I guess it would lead to lapses in device security that Apple definitely likes to avoid.
All these perks and more made it easier to get through the day, reduced the times I had to access the control center and made it easier to multitask when in a hurry. And the added ability to track your Airpods battery directly from the Dynamic Island ensured that I no longer needed the Home Screen battery widget, and now my home screen looks much cleaner. Though I still have the battery widget hidden in the Today View for times when I get battery anxiety. I guess new features won’t solve everything.
Related: 10 Dynamic Island tips you must know
Perks of using the Dynamic Island
While we’ve discussed my love for Dynamic Island at great length, here is a list of all the things I find to be really useful when it comes to using the new iPhone 14 Pro.
- Live Activities: Tracking scores for ongoing games in Dynamic Island is a godsend for sports fans. The support for third-party apps is missed, but it should show up with the upcoming release of iOS 16.1
- Face ID: Face ID now seamlessly integrates with Dynamic Island, no longer taking up the entire screen when authenticating your identity. I might be mistaken, but it also feels that Face ID remains active in Dynamic Island when something obstructs your face, waiting for you to remove it and authenticate accordingly. On my iPhone 12 mini, Face ID would simply fail and prompt me to try again when this was the case,
- Now Playing: For someone who constantly listens to something in the background while working, this has been an essential feature that I might not be able to let go of in the future. A few taps can control playback, and it even works with the YouTube browser trick when playing videos in the background.
- Airpods: Airpods not only have a visual representation depending on the generation you use, but you also get a visual representation of the remaining battery each time you connect them to your iPhone 14 Pro.
- Airdrop: Ever wondered why Apple never allows you to view the transfer progress when using Airdrop? This can get really annoying, especially if you’re transferring huge files. Well, believe it or not, you can track the progress of the Airdrop transfer in Dynamic Island. I no longer have to worry if the transfer has failed
- Navigating: This is well documented, but you can view Navigation and upcoming directions in the Dynamic Island. This only works in Apple Maps for now. Using Google Maps or Wave will simply show the navigation indicator in the Dynamic Island with no directions. Tapping the Island will take you to the concerned navigation app you were using.
- Multitasking: Multitasking now feels a bit easier and seamless as you can switch to active apps with ongoing activities from Dynamic Island and control supported activities accordingly.
- Recording: For someone who regularly records Voice Memos, having playback controls and a visual representation in Dynamic Island is especially useful. You can view the waveform of your recording, check the duration and stop the recording once you’re done. This way, you can continue researching the web while recording Voice Memos without ever having to switch to the app again.
- One-Handed use: While one-handed use and reachability were overlooked with the initial release of iOS 16, all that has changed with the introduction of iOS 16.1 and higher. Dynamic Island now moves along with your screen each time you use Reachability for one-handed use. This allows you to interact and manage background activities in Dynamic Island single-handedly allowing for a much more seamless one-handed experience.
Some more productivity perks:
Here are a few other nifty changes that I won’t go into details about as they aren’t significant but do help slightly improve the overall experience when using the Dynamic Island on the iPhone 14 Pro.
- Shortcut Notifications
- Screen Recordings
- Banner notifications
- Dismissed calls stay in the Dynamic Island
- Charging notifications
Room for improvement for the Dynamic Island
Loving someone means embracing all of their flaws, and while I do love the new Dynamic Island, I don’t love it enough to overlook certain drawbacks and areas where Apple can improve this feature. Many people feel that Dynamic Island is a gimmick that might go away with future iPhone releases, just like 3D Touch. I feel this might just turn out to be true if Apple fails to realize Dynamic Island’s full potential. Gimmicky naming aside, the attempt to blur the lines between software and hardware is a breath of fresh air in a world of technology where we’re used to rigid design choices that only get minor updates. Here’s a list of a few drawbacks and ways Apple can improve Dynamic Island to further cementify its position and help more users use it.
- Idle interaction: When you touch or hold the Dynamic Island with no activity in the background, it simply does nothing. While expected, this is a missed opportunity where you could have the option for it to open the app or start the last playing song with configuration options in the Settings app. It could also house app shortcuts or a module from the control center for easy access.
- Message Notifications: Message notifications show up normally with no integration with Dynamic Island. This is another missed opportunity where easy reply or dismissal options could be added to incoming banner notifications when using your iPhone. You can, however, still tap and hold on to the banner notification to reply to the concerned message.
- Improved gestures: Gestures to switch between ongoing activities and dismiss them are glitchy, to say the best on iOS 16.1 RC as of writing this post. Additionally, Apple has no documentation on these gestures, which leads many to believe that they could be refined and officially released with future updates.
- Front Camera: Another downside of Dynamic Island is that your front camera will regularly be smudged as you interact with it. This might force you to either clean your hands regularly (which is a good thing in these times) or carry a microfiber cloth with you. You can also be a slob like me and clean it with your T-Shirt when nobody’s looking.
I hope you found this opinion piece an interesting read. How has your experience been with the new Dynamic Island? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.