Before the announcement of iOS 17, I wrote about how I loved the Dynamic Island but was worried that it was on a trajectory to become yet another TouchBar. And after WWDC 2023, I’m sad to say it looks like Apple has forgotten about the iPhone 14 Pro’s killer feature already.
On June 5, Apple revealed iOS 17, and I patiently watched to see improvements to the Dynamic Island and Live Activities, two of the main reasons I wanted an iPhone 14 Pro in the first place - not even 12 months ago. Live Activities was mentioned briefly as part of the StandBy reveal, and I can see live notifications shining on the widget hub feature, and as a ‘new’ feature for iPadOS 17.
As for Dynamic Island, the iOS 17 reveal came and went, and there was not one mention of the feature that was so prominent in marketing for Apple’s latest flagship smartphone. So, what’s going on? Has Apple completely deserted the Island, or has the company actively ignored improvements to the feature so it can reveal upgrades later in the year?
Where's next for Dynamic Island?
Let’s give Apple the benefit of the doubt, and imagine that the rumors of the iPhone 15 lineup getting the Dynamic Island across the board is what led to no mention of the feature at WWDC. Let’s suppose that’s the case, and there’s a massive update to Dynamic Island coming, especially as more users than ever before have the opportunity to own a phone with the upgraded notch. If this turns out to be true it makes sense to wait until the reveal of the new iPhones.
I can think of many ways I’d like to use the Dynamic Island on my device. First, find a way to work with third-party developers to better incite them into building the API into third-party apps. At the moment, I’d estimate that around 10% of the apps on my iPhone actually work with Dynamic Island. Earlier this year, I reached out to the team over at FlashScore, one of my favorite live sports apps on iOS, to ask why there was no sign of Dynamic Island support despite constantly updating the app. A spokesperson replied, “I believe one of the issues might be that we rely solely on advertising as our service is free, so if users can see scores without having to open our app, then we could lose a lot of income.”
Is that why third-party developers have overlooked the Island? Because despite being a useful feature that would have more users use their apps, it would also mean less time spent on applications that survive through ad revenue. If that is the case, then Apple needs to step up and find a solution because otherwise, Dynamic Island will be long gone before it even got started.
Secondly, open up Dynamic Island to all the first-party apps already available. Siri needs to be up there. It feels like a wasted opportunity not to incorporate the voice assistant into the notch. Apps like Messages could even improve by allowing you to quickly pin your favorite conversation to reply whenever you want. We shouldn’t have to wait a year to see the Weather app work with the Dynamic Island; it should’ve worked out of the box.
Is it just a fantasy Island?
But what if Apple plans to release the iPhone 15 in September with no iOS 17 updates to the Dynamic Island? What if Apple is content with the incredibly thin-featured crossover between its hardware and software? I’d be more than disappointed to know that after owning an iPhone 14 Pro for a year, Apple thinks it’s good enough for the major selling point of its current best iPhone to be a glorified timer widget.
The marketing behind Dynamic Island was so frickin’ cool. It felt like Apple at its best, providing a new way to interact with your device to make the most of a hole-punch camera on the display. But then, just like the TouchBar, this new feature fell by the wayside, and I don’t quite understand why.
When I wrote about Dynamic Island becoming another TouchBar, I had some naive optimism that iOS 17 would be a turning point for what could become one of the most useful tools on any iPhone. Unfortunately, Apple had other plans. And, if September rolls around with no mention of new ways to use the Dynamic Island on the iPhone 15, it emphasizes that this was merely a stop-gap between a notch and a notch-less design.
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John-Anthony Disotto is the How To Editor of iMore, ensuring you can get the most from your Apple products and helping fix things when your technology isn’t behaving itself.
Living in Scotland, where he worked for Apple as a technician focused on iOS and iPhone repairs at the Genius Bar, John-Anthony has used the Apple ecosystem for over a decade and prides himself in his ability to complete his Apple Watch activity rings.
John-Anthony has previously worked in editorial for collectable TCG websites and graduated from The University of Strathclyde where he won the Scottish Student Journalism Award for Website of the Year as Editor-in-Chief of his university paper. He is also an avid film geek, having previously written film reviews and received the Edinburgh International Film Festival Student Critics award in 2019.
John-Anthony also loves to tinker with other non-Apple technology and enjoys playing around with game emulation and Linux on his Steam Deck.
In his spare time, John-Anthony can be found watching any sport under the sun from football to darts, taking the term “Lego house” far too literally as he runs out of space to display any more plastic bricks, or chilling on the couch with his French Bulldog, Kermit.