Apple this week officially announced iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max. While the external design looks pretty much the same as previous iPhones, the 14 Pro models have a new display design with Dynamic Island – a cutout at the top of the screen that replaces the notch with smart features. Read on as we detail how this feature works in practice.
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In terms of hardware, the iPhone 14 Pro’s screen has two separate cutouts: one for the Face ID sensors and one for the front camera. However, Apple chose to use the OLED panel to make that area look like a single pill-shaped cutout by default. However, Dynamic Island can do more than that, as the cutout turns into larger cards that function as widgets.
Apple has worked on several different implementations for Dynamic Island, and we were able to reproduce them thanks to the iPhone Simulator – a tool that lets developers try out iOS apps directly on a Mac.
How Dynamic Island works
One thing that’s impossible not to notice is how smooth Dynamic Island’s animations are. When you close an app that has Dynamic Island support, it goes straight to it. The cutout becomes larger depending on the action the app offers. For example, when you set a timer, iPhone shows the progress in real time at the top of the screen.
A long press on Dynamic Island expands that app’s widget with some basic controls. For timers, you can pause or stop them directly from Dynamic Island. The same applies to apps like Music and FaceTime. Some system actions like enabling a Focus mode or putting the iPhone in the charger also trigger animations on Dynamic Island.
One of the non-detailed behaviors for Apple that we can now see is how Dynamic Island handles Picture-in-Picture videos. Unsurprisingly, you can’t drag a PiP window over the cutout. And even when you have a PiP window at the top of the screen, expanding Dynamic Island moves the content down automatically.
Dynamic Island can show more than one app at a time. The app you used last will be the most prominent one, but you can also expand Dynamic Island’s alternative actions without having to go back to the app. There’s also a subtle shadow tinted with the accent color of the app that’s displaying the live activity.
Once you open a video, Dynamic Island reverts to its default layout with no extra icons. Even if you tap on it, nothing happens. Overall, the system works quite well – and Apple has created an API so that developers can also take advantage of Dynamic Island.
Other tidbits include a demo of the Shortcuts app working with Dynamic Island, as well as a look at animations related to the new Apple Watch Ultra side button.
It’s worth noting that only iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro feature Dynamic Island, while iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus don’t. All new models will go on pre-order this Friday, September 9.