Best Ways to Use the New iPhone Pro's Dynamic Island

Best Ways to Use the New iPhone Pro's Dynamic Island

Here's a look at some of the clever ways to make use of the camera cutout.

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Image: Florence Ion / Gizmodo

There’s been lots of chatter about the iPhone 14 Pro/Pro Max’s Dynamic Island since it was introduced a few weeks ago. It’s garnered enough buzz that even Android users are attempting to spoof the feature on their devices. But what’s so special about the Dynamic Island, anyway?

The Dynamic Island is how Apple’s using the dead space that houses the selfie camera and Face ID sensor on the iPhone 14 Pro’s display. Since its introduction, it’s spawned countless memes and even a few hacks. But it’s surprisingly versatile. If you’re not updating your iPhone this year and are curious about everything the dynamic island can do, here’s a look at how to best use the Dynamic Island.

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Charging up

Charging up

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Image: Florence Ion / Gizmodo

Apple uses the Dynamic Island to house pertinent pop-ups. When you plug in the iPhone 14 Pro, it lets you know it’s charging and how much battery there is on the gauge.

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Face ID

Face ID

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Image: Florence Ion / Gizmodo

Anytime you use facial recognition to unlock the iPhone 14 Pro, look to the Dynamic Island for confirmation. The Dynamic Island expands even further when using Face ID to make an in-app purchase, as seen in the screenshot above.

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Incoming calls

Incoming calls

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Image: Florence Ion / Gizmodo

Dynamic Island uses iOS’s Call Kit, so you’ll see call notifications appear, whether someone is calling you at your phone number or through a third party like Instagram or WhatsApp. If you tap it twice, you can expand it to peep the in-call time or hang up.

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AirPods connect

AirPods connect

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Image: Florence Ion / Gizmodo

If you use accessories like AirPods, they’ll pop in up top to let you know they’ve connected.

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Media playback

Media playback

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Image: Florence Ion / Gizmodo

Apple’s Dynamic Island taps into iOS’s Now Playing API. As a result, Developers don’t have to write new code for their apps to work with the feature. Media apps like Spotify just automatically minimize playback controls to the Dynamic Island. The feature works with podcast and radio apps. It even works with Apple Fitness. If you need to return to the app to skip or pause, tap to expand.

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Screen recording

Screen recording

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Image: Florence Ion / Gizmodo

As I was screen recording in iOS to grab images for this piece, I realized I could expand the module in the Dynamic Island to stop the process. Screen recording uses iOS’s Live Activities, so it stays active in the notification panel at the top.

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Navigation

Navigation

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Image: Florence Ion / Gizmodo

Apple Maps also utilizes Live Activities, so if you’re using the app for navigation, you can minimize it to the Dynamic Island. It will show you directions for which way is next. (Above, it’s telling me to turn right off my street.)

Google Maps will also minimize to the Dynamic Island, though it won’t show directions.

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Hit the Island

Hit the Island

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Image: Florence Ion / Gizmodo

The upcoming iOS 16.1 patch promises to bring more functionality to the Dynamic Island and more ways for developers to take advantage of it. Until then, Hit the Island is a clever way to pass the time. It turns your iOS screen into a game of pong against the notch, which vibrates whenever the ball bounces off of it. Download it here.

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Dynamic Island Zoo

Dynamic Island Zoo

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Image: Florence Ion / Gizmodo

Lonely? The Dynamic Island Zoo, available inside a popular Reddit client called Apollo, lets you perch a virtual pet on top of the notch. Choose between a dog, a cat, or even an axolotl. You will have to pay to unlock the other animal offerings. And it looks like the little pets aren’t available when you exit Apollo. Download the app here.

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