In 2017, just in time for the iPhone’s 10th anniversary, Apple unveiled the iPhone X along with the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus. While the iPhone 8 series retained the Home button, the iPhone X was the first iPhone to ditch the classic button entirely and introduce Face ID to replace Touch ID.
But besides that, came the notch at the top of the screen, which houses the selfie camera and the Face ID sensor. My first thought when I saw the incision for the first time was, “Wow, that’s ugly.” I didn’t even buy the iPhone X at that time, instead I chose the iPhone 8.
It’s now been five generations of iPhone since the iPhone X, and last year, the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max dropped the notch in favor of Dynamic Island. In place of the notch, we now have an elongated pill-shaped segment at the top of the screen, and it can change to show you different things like timers, music/podcasts playing, and more.
But it’s been almost a year since Dynamic Island was introduced, and I still don’t get much out of it. In fact, it went from something I was really excited about to a huge disappointment.
Dynamic Island app support sucks… still
I started my career reviewing apps, so I have hundreds – maybe even a thousand – of apps in my downloads. Sure, many of them may not be in the App Store anymore, but I still have plenty of current and updated apps.
The problem is that the apps I use the most, the ones I rely on every day, I hardly use the dynamic island at all. I’m not a sports person, so there’s no point in watching sports scores, although that’s one of the more common uses for the dynamic island. Of course, I’m not sure what kind of information can be displayed in Dynamic Island for apps like Outlook/Spark, Microsoft Teams, Ivory for Mastodon, Threads, or my other social media apps. For most of the day, however, my dynamic island remains there, empty, like a desolate wasteland.
I’ve noticed that Instagram is now using the Dynamic Island to tell you the progress of the upload, like when uploading stuff to Stories, but this only lasts for a few seconds before it goes away. I also have Pixel Pals, which uses the Dynamic Island to house a cute little polka dot pet, but this is not what I would call “my tip” or even a necessity.
One of the apps I use that I’m shocked doesn’t use Dynamic Island yet is DoorDash. Now, I don’t use DoorDash as often as I did during the pandemic, but every now and then, I want to order food and not leave the house (I’m lazy). Every time I do this, I shake my head in disappointment because there is no real-time tracking as live activity or some kind of status indicator on the dynamic island. This is the kind of app that would be perfect for both features, but nope.
Right now, I only use the Dynamic Island when I’m playing music from Apple Music, using turn-by-turn directions in Apple Maps, authenticating with Face ID for Apple Pay, and maybe if I need a timer. This is not present on the Apple Watch Ultra.
I know that some of the apps I use, like Uber and Flighty, use Dynamic Island and Liveactivities, but I hardly fly or need an Uber right now. I’d just like to see more of the apps I use every day support a major selling point of the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max. It’s been a year, and there’s still barely anything left.
Is the Dynamic Island the new Touch Bar?
The dynamic island yet reminds me of Touch Bar on MacBooks dating back to 2016. The Touch Bar was interesting because it added a touchpad on top of the keyboard for quick access to different functions in apps, but even though it was a new idea, not a lot of people really cared about it.
There were some big reasons why people didn’t like the Touch Bar, aside from the fact that it replaced the entire function row of keys on the keyboard itself. Despite the ‘Touch’ bar name, you can’t do anything on it without having to look at it because it’s a touchpad – it’s always changing appearance and function depending on the active app, and you didn’t get exact physical feedback because it was just a surface vitreous. For “power” users, touch typing is my thing, so having to look at the keyboard to do something used to be annoying.
After a few years of MacBooks with the Touch Bar, Apple finally decided to take the hardware edge off in 2021 with the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros. This also marks the return of the function row on the keyboard.
I feel like Dynamic Island could go the same way as Touch Bar. It’s quite limited in space, so any information displayed there will always be very condensed or minimal. Once again, there was not enough support from third-party developers, even after almost a year.
Not the iPhone upgrade I was hoping for
When Apple revealed Dynamic Island, it was exciting because it finally replaced the ugly bump, and what you could do with it seemed pretty cool. But a year later, and I’m still only making use of it with native apps, so one of the main reasons I wanted the iPhone 14 Pro is gone. At first I thought it was fun and quirky, but now I find Dynamic Island to be boring and unimaginative.
rumors to The iPhone 15 lineup says the Dynamic Island will be present on all models, not just the Pro. Maybe we’ll see the dynamic island become useful once it becomes standard across the lineup and more accessible to people…or maybe it will remain as limited as it is today. I certainly hope this is the first because, as it stands now, it still seems like a lot of wasted potential.