“Welcome to a shape-shifting, multitasking, head-turning, game-changing iPhone experience,” says the Apple website’s introduction to Dynamic Island. While it is a shape-shifting experience, it isn’t head-turning or game-changing in any sense. And it is in no way or form “multitasking.”
The Dynamic Island is good to look at when it’s working, but five months into its life span, the feature hasn’t caught up to the promises Apple made at launch. There’s plenty of potential for it, but we’re still waiting for something to actually come of it.
The Dynamic Island still isn’t what I expected
Apple says, “Dynamic Island blends fun and function like never before, consolidating your notifications, alerts, and activities into one interactive place.” Unfortunately, that’s marketing fluff, and the on-paper hype doesn’t translate to real-life experiences.
I wrote in September 2022 that Dynamic Island worked with only three of my apps — Apple Music, Spotify, and WhatsApp. I expected things to get better as time progressed and more developers integrated activities into their apps. Fast-forward to February 2023, and the Dynamic Island is mostly pretty animations for things you already know — and that’s about it.
For instance, Uber was supposed to make use of Live Activities and integrate the travel information for your ride at the top of your iPhone 14 Pro’s display. But all I get right now after booking a ride is the location icon in the Dynamic Island to signify that an app is using the location services in the background. It is no different than having the location icon on my notification bar at the top-left corner on any iPhone without the Dynamic Island. That’s not very dynamic of the Island, is it?
The Dynamic Island is mostly pretty animations for things you already know — and that’s about it.
Uber supposedly started rolling out Dynamic Island support in December, but as of February 2023, it’s still nowhere to be seen on my iPhone 14 Pro. It’s also not available on Digital Trends Editor Joe Maring’s iPhone 14 Pro Max, even with the Uber app updated to the latest available version.
The camera cutout shows pleasing voice animations for when I’m on a WhatsApp call, with colors changing depending on who is talking. They’re pretty animations, but have zero functionality.
The only time I find myself interacting with the Dynamic Island is when I’m playing music. Long-pressing gives me the playback controls in a small box, and tapping on it takes me to the app. The former is no quicker than sliding down from the top to access music controls via the notification shade. If this is what it takes for Apple to label a feature as “multitasking,” it really needs to rethink the meaning of that word.
Multitasking on iPhones still feels like a distant dream because Apple considers providing music controls over the app you’re running as “multitasking.” The Dynamic Island isn’t doing something quicker or something that wasn’t possible before. It is not giving me the option to quickly trigger the Notes app in a window and jot down my thoughts while researching a story on Safari. It is not allowing me to see the ETA while using Uber.
In a way, the Galaxy S7 Edge’s waterfall display on the right edge was more functional in 2016 than the Dynamic Island is in 2023. It at least allowed me to run one app over the other, which is still not possible on iPhones.
A big app problem that isn’t getting better
None of the apps I regularly use support the Dynamic Island – yep, zero. And I use quite a few apps daily. To give you an idea, I’m hopping between Twitter, Instagram, Asana, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Gmail, and more throughout the day. The only exception as of now is Google Maps, which shows a pop-up for directions while navigating. The Dynamic Island does show that I’m on a Zoom call when I close the window, but its practicality is questionable at best.
The Dynamic Island hasn’t turned out the way Apple had hoped it would.
At launch, Apple promised that the Dynamic Island would get more useful “by the end of the year.” We are two months past the deadline, and it seems to be more of a per-app problem than an Apple problem as a whole. But if there’s one company that can rally developer support to make a software feature a hit, it is Apple. Unfortunately, it hasn’t turned out the way Apple had hoped it would.
“The Dynamic Island is one of the top reasons to consider the iPhone 14 Pro over the cheaper iPhone 14, and one of the few differences if you’re thinking about upgrading from a recent iPhone. If it’s only really used by system apps, then its appeal plummets, and with it, the overall appeal of the latest phone,” Digital Trends’ Andy Boxall wrote in an article in December 2022.
But it still stands true because of the slow, almost nonexistent rollout of new Live Activities support for existing apps. As of February 2023, the Dynamic Island is running out of time, and it still isn’t the must-have or groundbreaking feature that Apple wants you to believe it is.