Apple’s new iPhone 14 Pro Dynamic Island is now a little more dynamic. iOS 16.1, which was officially released on millions of iPhones this week, brought new gesture controls to Apple’s groundbreaking notch replacement.
Only available on the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max, Dynamic Island not only moved the True Depth Module below the top edge of the iPhone, it also created a fungible island of functionality. From a technical point of view, Dynamic Island is actually two Super Retina Display XDR screen cutouts, one pill-shaped and the other wider and cylindrical. Apple deftly uses the tiny bits of pixels between the two shapes to create what appears to be an animated, fully dynamic digital island.
Inside the dynamic island are activity symbols to indicate if, for example, your phone is locked, playing music or providing map-based directions. It may appear to expand to provide more map details or perform a Face ID check. In other words, Island, which also supports third-party apps, is designed to be many things for many people.
In iOS 16.1, it gains another trick. Live Island is already capable of displaying two apps running at the same time, but they usually look like two separate islands with home screen pixels separating them. Now, with a gesture, you can easily hide an activity. Apple has confirmed that this feature, which first appeared in iOS 16.1 beta, is now part of the public download.
For example, we launch Apple Music and start playing a song, then switch to Maps and set up home navigation. On the home screen, Dynamic Island displayed these activities on two separate islands, for lack of a better word. If we put a finger, for example, on the smaller music island and swipe to the left, the music island will be hidden, and we will only have a full-sized Dynamic Island running our Map directions.
Another quick swipe to the left on the left side of Dynamic Island shows the music app, which ends up going back to its little island on the right.
Granted, it’s a small change, but also an indication that Apple sees the touch-responsive Dynamic Island as a platform on which to build a world of interaction.
We like control and expect more.