Apple’s new iPhone 14 Pro Dynamic Island is now just a little more dynamic. iOS 16.1, which officially dropped on millions of iPhones this week, brought with it 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 iPhone’s top edge, but it also created a fungible island of functionality. From a technical perspective, the Dynamic Island is actually two Super Retina Display XDR screen cutouts, one pill-shaped and the other wider and more cylindrical. Apple cannily uses the small bits of pixels between the two shapes to create what appears to be a lively and fully dynamic digital island.
Inside the Dynamic island are activity symbols to indicate if, for instance, your phone is locked, playing music, or delivering Map-based directions. It can appear to expand to offer more map details or conduct a Face ID scan. In other words, the Island, which also supports third-party apps, is designed to be many things to many 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 distinct islands with home screen pixels separating them. Now, with a gesture, you can easily hide one activity. Apple confirmed that this feature, which first appeared in 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 the navigation for home. On the home screen, the Dynamic Island displayed these activities in two separate, for lack of a better word, islands. If we place a finger on, for instance, the smaller music island and swipe to the left the music island is hidden, and we have just one original-sized Dynamic Island running our Map directions.
Another quick left swipe on the far left side of the Dynamic Island unhides the music app, which ends up back on its own tiny island on the right.
Granted, it’s a small change, but also an indication that Apple views the Dynamic Island, which already responds to taps, as a platform on which it can build a world of interaction.
We like the control and look forward to more.