After iPhone 15, would Apple really ditch Dynamic Island?
For most of 2022, we heard Apple was planning to decrease the size of the TrueDepth camera and Face ID notch on iPhone 14 Pro models by making it pill-shaped. But, of course, when it happened, no one expected Apple to introduce something as cutting-edge as Dynamic Island to hide the new camera design in fun new ways.
Undoubtedly, the best new feature on the iPhone 14 Pro lineup, Dynamic Island, has proven so popular that it looks set to jump to every iPhone 15 model later this year when the devices are released. The feature isn’t available on the iPhone 14 or iPhone 14 Max. According to a new report, however, Apple plans to retire Dynamic Island when a redesigned iPhone 16 Pro is released in 2024.
Would Apple remove a popular iPhone feature after just two generations? Perhaps, although it’s also possible, the company could keep Dynamic Island around in some other capacity, which is ultimately what I believe the company plans to do.
Say it ain’t so, Apple
Earlier today, The Elec reported Apple plans on introducing an “underpanel Face ID” (good) to the iPhone 16 Pro models, which would make the need for Dynamic Island less necessary (bad). The report notes Face ID will be available, but it will look “like a normal display when this function is not used.”
As Stephen Warwick explains, “Sadly, and somewhat confusingly, the report says that there will still be a lens hole that is visible for the iPhone’s front camera. This could indicate that while the larger Dynamic Island will go, a small camera housing could remain.”
Don’t be mistaken; Apple created Dynamic Island to remove the negativity associated with the previous iPhone notch design. Instead of an annoying black strip at the top of the device, Dynamic Island uses hardware and software to adjust what’s shown on display, depending on what you’re doing with the smartphone. The result is something fresh and spectacular.
For example, when Apple Music is being played, you’ll see tiny album art and a visual equalizer in Dynamic Island. Meanwhile, when using the official Maps app, your next turn is noted in the screen location, and so forth. You can also hard press Dynamic Island anytime to activate a playback control, return to the app, and more.
At launch, Dynamic Island was mainly offered only through native apps. Since then, developers have quickly jumped on board to enhance the user app experience. With the iOS 16.1 update last fall, Dynamic Island became even more useful with the introduction of Live Activities. This feature allows developers to add anything from weather disturbances to real-time sports scores to Dynamic Island.
Watch any significant sporting event in the United States on television, and you’ll likely see a costly Apple ad highlighting the new feature on the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max. Dynamic Island is also prominently displayed on the Apple website and at Apple retail stores. Assuming the entire iPhone 15 lineup gains Dynamic Island this fall, ads for the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Max will undoubtedly highlight the feature ad nauseam.
And we’re supposed to believe this all goes away in 2024 with the iPhone 16 Pro? That’s highly unlikely.
What will probably happen with the iPhone 16 Pro
Let’s assume Apple ditches what we know as Dynamic Island with the iPhone 16 Pro next year. Given the feature’s popularity, I’d expect it to be made a software-only feature that isn’t tied to Face ID or TrueDepth on devices going forward. As such, it would be a feature that pops up (and goes away) at the top of the smartphone, depending on what’s happening.
With Dynamic Island no longer tied to hardware, it could also make it possible to bring the feature to iPad. It’s a feature that would work on the larger device if done correctly.
More than a few readers have contacted me recently, worrying Dynamic Island could become the next Touch Bar. Introduced on select MacBook Pro models beginning in 2016, Touch Bar was heavily advertised by Apple — until it wasn’t.
I don’t believe Dynamic Island is going down the same sad path as Touch Bar for a few reasons. First, the former is on Apple’s No. 1 product lineup, and its footprint is expected to grow substantially in just a few months when the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Max get released. Second, that will translate into millions of new Dynamic Island users that app developers won’t want to ignore.
Finally, Dynamic Island has a lot of room to grow. In future versions of iOS, for example, Apple could update the feature to tweak how we see notifications, for example, or communicate with friends via Messages or FaceTime without actually opening the apps. And yes, there could be many benefits in giving Dynamic Island a much larger playground on future iPads.
It will be interesting to see what Apple has planned for Dynamic Island in the coming months and years. Stay tuned.
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