All the talk right now is understandably about everything announced at WWDC 2023. The Vision Pro headset, the 15-inch MacBook Air, and finally the arrival of a Mac Pro running Apple silicon. And then there's all the software, too.
But sometimes it's important to look back at some of the big announcements that have been and gone. Like that of the iPhone 14 Pro and more specifically, the Dynamic Island. Because that was going to be the next big thing and while the iPhone's launch in September 2022 saw plenty of new apps adopt it, what's happened since?
The iPhone 14 Pro's Dynamic Island has been tragically underused. And I think Apple knows it.
The most dynamic iPhone yet
The Dynamic Island, let's remember, is the area around the selfie camera at the top of Apple's best iPhones. It's a place where apps can display information without taking over the entire screen, and it's pretty great.
Apple's own apps and of course iOS use the Dynamic Island, and there are plenty of App Store apps that use it as well. But they all seemed to arrive in a flurry around the launch of the new iPhones, as you'd expect.
Since then? It's all gone quiet and WWDC 2023 didn't really help on the face of it. The iOS 17 update pretty much ignores the Dynamic Island, too. Except for one particular video that might tell us a lot about Apple's own thoughts on the feature.
That video is called "Design dynamic Live Activities" and, as the same suggests, it's all about showing developers how to make the best of Live Activities — including the Dynamic Island.
In that video, we get to see some wonderful examples of what makes a great Live Activity including some that live in the Dynamic Island. Apple explains how developers can make their Dynamic Island Live Activities look and work in a way that follows best practices, all while hopefully encouraging more developers to make better use of one of the iPhone 14 Pro's best features. And with rumors claiming the iPhone 15 will also get the same feature, it stands to reason that it would.
If anything, I suggest that this video shows that Apple is well aware that the Dynamic Island hasn't quite gone as far as it had hoped or expected. And with this developer session, it hopes to kickstart everything once again. And if that's the case, we all win.
Useful features, not gimmicks
As with any feature we saw the Dynamic Island become something of a gimmick in the way some third-party apps used it towards the end of 2022. It's now time that we saw a new wave of apps, all giving us glanceable information in the way this video shows.
Will we get it? That's up to Apple as much as it is the developers of the apps we use every day. But the lack of a focus on the Dynamic Island with iOS 17 is a concern for some. And they're right to be concerned. Because without apps that use it, the Dynamic Island will just become a notch by another name. Taking up space at the top of our iPhones that could be used for something useful.
Maybe apps could put information up there. Maybe they wouldn't even need to be running for that to happen, and they could update that information when needed as well.
Now then. That'd be pretty cool, wouldn't it?
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Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.
Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.