Dynamic Island could push phone makers to make better use of the status bar • TechCrunch

When Apple debuted “the notch” with the iPhone X, it received strong reactions from many people, but the company supported and even embraced it. Now with the iPhone 14 Pro we have “Dynamic Island” – a redesigned cutout that uses software to make the space very useful.

If you don’t know what it is, Dynamic Island is an expanding and contracting area around the notch that displays useful information like the song currently playing, a call notification, and the distance your device has traveled. Taxi. Watch the video below to get a better visual idea.

In terms of hardware, the phone has a pill-shaped cutout and a punch-hole cutout with a gap between them. However, in all the images we’ve seen so far, Apple has cleverly hidden this discrepancy with black pixels. The OLED screen of the iPhone 14 Pro allows it to disable certain pixels.

Until now, the main use of the status bar was either to check battery levels or to pull down the notification bar or control center. Given the shape of the notch in iPhone models before the 14 Pro, app makers couldn’t draw over the battery and network icons to display a widget or banner notification.

It is now possible to use the top of the screen thanks to the new design and even APIs allowing developers to use this new widget/notification/banner format. As we noted in our review, apps that use the CallKit API or Now Playing may already be able to use Dynamic Island. At its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), Apple announced Live Activity — widgets that track real-time activity like the score of a sports match. However, the Live Activities API – which will also include instructions to adopt for Dynamic Island – is coming later this year to iOS 16 and XCode for developers. So we might see wider adoption of the new island by third parties after that.

Apple hasn’t defined the overall execution of the feature, however. To expand Dynamic Island, you can touch the sides of the cutout. Technically, the cutout areas aren’t tactile, but Apple uses touch heuristics to “generate” touch based on parts of your finger that land on the outer areas. So there may be some hits and misses in actual use.

A single tap will directly open the app instead of spreading the pill around the cutouts in a widget, which could be confusing. To open the widget you will need to long press the pill. For example, if you’re listening to a song on Apple Music and press the pill, the app will open instead of expanding into a widget to quickly change tracks or adjust the volume. Also, the designers claim that it is not the best interface execution because the area is hard to reach with one hand. But a ton of people now use two-handed phones given the size of the screens.

One thing that Dynamic Island seems to do is make maximum use of screen real estate. Extending the capability of the top bar as more than an icon display isn’t entirely a new concept. LG tried to include a “second screen” above the normal screen with the V10 and V20 for the past decade. But it was not successful. However, Apple’s Dynamic Island could push Android phone makers to create a version of it. People on Twitter have already started creating concepts for various Android skins.

After device makers started including cutouts in the phone design, many attempts were made to hide them to provide a full-screen experience. Such as Oppo’s Shark-fin camera or the rotating camera and a bunch of pop-up cameras from different companies. However, none of them remained, and manufacturers resorted to smaller notches.

With the iPhone 14 Pro, Apple didn’t just parade around cutouts, but asked developers to build on them – a bold choice for a phone’s marquee function. It’s probably not a game-changing feature. But it’s smart, innovative, and also indicative of the fact that we could be years away from the in-display selfie cameras coming to mass-market smartphones.

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